Many current climate models project that average sea levels could rise by 3 feet or more by the end of century. Officials from four southeast Florida counties agreed in the action plan on the possibility of 9 to 24 inches of rise by 2060.
South Fla. faces major expenses
Technology options such as levees are not viable in south Florida, because the region's geology is porous like Swiss cheese. That means that rising seas would seep underneath sea walls.
Officials say rising seas threaten to push salt water farther inland underground into freshwater drinking wells -- a condition that already was problematic because of drainage of the Everglades (ClimateWire, Jan. 10).
In areas that already have flooding problems, such as a Fort Lauderdale neighborhood where residents sometimes wade to their cars during high tides, officials have been experimenting with valves on drainage pipes that prevent water from flowing backward onto roadways.
The efforts have helped but are not keeping streets in the neighborhood completely free of water, said Jennifer Jurado, a director of the Broward County Natural Resources Planning and Management Division. Fort Lauderdale also plans to elevate a major bridge this January because of worries about flooding, she said.
In Miami Beach, city officials also are considering a $206 million revamp of the entire storm drainage system that takes sea-level rise into account. The city's public works director said at a public hearing this fall that it was the first time "that any community in south Florida, and actually in the entire state of Florida, is taking into account sea-level rise as they plan their stormwater infrastructure."
Passage of the regional climate plan and a new county comprehensive plan could help with the situation in Broward County by requiring new assessments of base elevations of buildings in flood zones, Jurado said.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500