An average 48 inches, or 4 feet, of rain falls on Orange County, Fla., every year. To keep the deluge from flooding roads used by 1 million residents and 2 million visitors heading to and from world famous attractions like Walt Disney World, the county is laced with almost 2,700 miles of canals, culverts, and ditches that channel runoff into 12 drainage basins.

Building, assessing, and maintaining this intricate network keeps our 231 employees busy year-round.

The 1,450-foot Bates Road canal is a secondary drainage system on the county’s northeast side. The canal, which is piped with concrete culverts, conveys runoff from surrounding neighborhoods, businesses, upstream areas, and the road flowing east to the Crane Strand canal and from there discharges to the Little Econlockhatchee River.

Erosion presented at least three challenges:

  • The side slopes were 1:1 or steeper in many areas; right of way along the road is too narrow for banks to be regraded to a more stable slope.
  • The top of the canal was 1 to 3 feet from the edge of the road, which is unsafe for motorists.
  • The canal is constrained between the road and private homes, where land next to the canal was also caving in.

Enclosing the canal would mitigate all of these safety hazards by eliminating the causes of erosion. At the same time, we could upgrade several undersized road crossings, ending maintenance challenges stemming from the steep slopes.

This, however, was easier said than done.

Next Page: The first plan for enclosure