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The nearly 30,000 acres of land assembled for Disney World, near Orlando, Fla., was anything but an ideal construction site. Like most of Florida, the terrain is flat, with an average slope of 0.0004. And water is a problem. Either there's too much of it or not enough.

Disney assigned the task of devising a system to control nature's hydrologic vagaries to consulting engineer Gee & Jenson, West Palm Beach. The product of its studies and design work, begun in 1967, is a network of channels and control structures, claimed to be the largest ever built privately.

Like the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District's massive system to the south, Disney World's system must be capable of draining water from the area during a typical Florida tropical rain and the torrential downpours caused by hurricanes. But it also must maintain adequate water tables during droughts, which are usually seasonal, but sometimes extend for two or three years.

The vendors of make-believe and nostalgia quite realistically don't want anyone's feet to get wet, but there is much vegetation not made of plastic that had to be kept flourishing and a possible 12-ft drop in the groundwater table during dry weather that had to be prevented.