Skip to content

Blog Post

EPIC Water Management

You may have noticed a lot of digging going on at Flamingo Gardens lately. That is because we have EPIC improvements underway! As part of our Master Plan adopted in 2020, and our Be EPIC (Everglades Preservation Involves Change) program, Flamingo Gardens is creating additional water retention areas to help control flooding while simultaneously beautifying the Gardens.

The Everglades and Florida are facing significant water management challenges due to growing populations and increasingly unpredictable rainfall patterns coupled with rising sea levels leading to saltwater intrusion. Record-breaking floods in recent years bear witness to growing climate change-induced disruptions in the water cycle. This makes both better water management and climate adaptation planning key aspects for the Flamingo Gardens Master Plan.

Figure 1. 2019 Master planning session at Flamingo Gardens.

We must also help protect the Everglades by minimizing water runoff into the canal system. Flamingo Gardens already minimizes the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to help reduce chemical runoff into the Everglades, but retaining water on the property helps reduce extreme fluctuation and stress on the waterways of the Everglades as well. Plus, the additional bodies of water are opportunities to beautify the Gardens while providing new environments for plants and wildlife.

Figure 2. Stormwater drainage diagram.

The Master Plan calls for a series of Stormwater Gardens with native plants which will help retain runoff from the parking lots, Tram Trail, sidewalks, and other paved areas. These Stormwater Gardens are designed to be dry much of the year but will hold water during the rainy season and times of flooding to minimize overflow of the Flamingo Pond and Rookery and reduce runoff into the canal system. The native plants will filter the water as it slowly absorbs into the soil below.

Figure 3. Master Plan Water Management Plan

A long, narrow lake will be created in the middle of the Tram Trail area that will help mitigate the annual flooding of the wetlands in the far eastern end of the property. The lake will be the centerpiece of a new Palmetum, an arboretum of palm tree species from around the world. The Palmetum surrounding the lake will be raised, like the cactus and cycad gardens with a sidewalk allowing continuous access from the bear and otter habitats to the Butterfly Conservatory and back. This lake will also provide natural habitat for Everglades birds and wildlife.

Figure 4. Stormwater Garden example.
Currently we are trenching the Rookery to allow it to retain more water. This will be followed by beautification of the area with new native landscaping, new railings, fencing, and signage. Stormwater Gardens will be installed behind the Learning Center, Panther Habitat, and beside the Flamingo Pond to retain flood waters during rainy season.
Figure 5. Palmetum at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden.

Back by the Butterfly Conservatory, we have commenced digging Phase 1 of a new lake and Palmetum to help control flooding around the cactus and cycad gardens. The dirt being dug for the lake will be used to create the new raised beds for the Palmetum on both sides of the lake. The Cactus Garden sidewalk will be extended into the Africa section of the Palmetum which will highlight our collection of Baobab trees, and large African Oil Palms which will be transplanted onto the new raised beds. It will take several years (and hundreds of thousands of dollars) to complete the lake, Palmetum, and the entire water management plan, a necessity to mitigate flooding in the coming years. The project will help protect the amazing collection of plants from flooding and create new habitats for Everglades birds and wildlife at the same time!

Register For Exclusive Flamingo Gardens News & Offers

Recent Posts