Swales are broad, shallow channels along roads, driveways and parking lots that are part of the City's stormwater drainage system. Swales are designed to protect your property from flooding. Properly maintained swales can collect stormwater runoff, trap pollutants, increase groundwater recharge, and slow the flow of runoff, reducing erosion. Palm Coast has more than 1,200 miles of roadside swales.
The swale in front of your home (the 'ditch' that runs across the front of your property) is designed for these purposes:
- To capture stormwater runoff
- To direct runoff from residential properties and streets to a local water body
- To maintain a dry roadbed
- To store runoff until it has a chance to soak into the ground
It is extremely important to continue regular swale maintenance to minimize flooding. Swales were conceived to run from property to property, creating a stream that flows first to cross-ditches and then to larger bodies of water. Blockages can keep the system from progressing. Here are some important steps you can follow for routine swale maintenance:
- Mow and maintain your swale at an acceptable grass height. Tall grass slows water movement.
- Blow grass clippings back onto grass or landscape areas
- Keep your driveway culvert open.
- Remove trash, leaves, limbs and grass from your swale and culvert opening.
- Minimize use of fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides within 50 feet of a swale.
- Install plants/landscaping at least 15-20 feet from the road; they still add beauty, but leave the swale functional.
- Don't fill in your swale.
- Don't park on or drive across your swale. Cars and their tire tracks block the water flow.
- Don't do anything to cause the side slopes of your swale to erode.
If you believe you have an issue with your swale, please notify Customer Service at 386-986-2360.
Gaining Ground on Swales
The City performs ongoing swale maintenance to re-grade miles of swales each year. The goal is to sustain the City's original swale design so that it functions in the way it was built to perform. Palm Coast has a very good drainage system that is environmentally friendly and has proven itself over time.
Swales are designed to run from property to property, creating a stream that flows first to cross-ditches and then to larger bodies of water. Blockages may occur over time when soil or vegetation fills the swales.
To counteract these issues, the Palm Coast Public Works Department performs several tasks to keep swales operating properly. Their ongoing six-month rotation maintenance program has been effective. The stormwater crews perform maintenance two times per year throughout the City in all the neighborhoods. In conjunction with the routine swale maintenance, the City mows 150 miles of ditches and spot sprays with herbicides to target specific vegetation in the ditches.
Also, as new homes are built, the City requires developers to build swales set forth in the original 30-year-old site plan. Builders must procure elevation plans for each swale. City survey technicians travel to each property to gather information on the proper elevation, and engineering technicians design a swale elevation that will coincide with the grading of homes on either side. This helps ensure the swales on a street are all at the same grade so that they can function properly.