Swales are the broad, shallow channels along roads, driveways and parking lots that are designed to protect your property from flooding. They are part of the City's stormwater drainage system. Properly maintained swales can collect stormwater runoff, trap pollutants, increase groundwater recharge, and slow the flow of runoff – thus reducing erosion. Palm Coast currently contains more than 1,200 miles of roadside swales.
Swales (the 'ditches' that run across the front of your property) are specially designed for several purposes. The four central purposes for which swales are designed are to:
- To capture stormwater runoff
- Direct runoff from residential properties and streets to a local water body;
- Maintain a dry roadbed; and
- Store runoff until it has a chance to soak into the ground
The importance of performing regular swale maintenance cannot be understated. 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 simple, yet significant, 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 landscaped 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.
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. To counteract any issues that may appear, the Palm Coast Public Works Department performs several tasks to keep swales operating properly. 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.