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Can a Half a Penny Combat Rising Seas?

Can a Half a Penny Combat Rising Seas?

South Florida is in the peak of King Tide Season. This is the time of year when high tides are abnormally high because the moon is at its closest point to earth. We experience these tides at full moon from September to November and again in the spring, from March through May. The ocean and coastal waters creep over seawalls and rise through storm drains, flooding streets and neighborhoods. Miami Beach gets nationwide attention, not only for the flooding problems it faces, but for the efforts it has undertaken to fight back against the seas. Championed by Mayor Phillip Levine, Miami Beach has made a $400 million investment to reduce flooding. The city continues to install a pumping system in lower lying areas. And, it is raising street levels and replacing and raising seawalls.

Of course, the problem is not limited to Miami Beach. Sea levels continue to rise. Some experts predict that by 2045, there will be a 15-inch rise in the mean high tide in South Florida. Broward County faces the same problems as Miami Beach, though it has not aggressively begun to fight back. During the recent King Tides, neighborhoods in Ft. Lauderdale’s Las Olas Isles posted “No Wake Zone” signs on streets. These signs ordinarily are found on the waterways to regulate boating speed. Hollywood’s Lakes neighborhood floods after even minor rain storms. But during the King Tides, the flooding was deeper and affected streets further from the lakes than usual. City and County leaders continue to discuss prevention methods, but funding in Broward County does not exist.

This could change on November 8th, election day. Voters have the opportunity to approve a penny sales tax that will be used to fund transportation and infrastructure in Broward County. One-half cent will be used by the County to fund transportation projects and the other one-have cent will be used by the cities and unincorporated Broward County to fund infrastructure projects. Infrastructure projects include projects designed to address sea level rise. Proposed projects include:

  • Dania Beach – Modernization of master drainage plan.
  • Deerfield Beach – Artificial reefs stabilization, beach reclamation project.
  • Ft. Lauderdale – Restoration and replacement of city owned seawalls, storm water and tidal improvements, including backflow valves in downtown, New River and Nurmi Isles, seawall replacement on Isle of Palms, Cordova Road and East Las Olas, storm water Improvements on Cordova Road and Arglyne Drive.
  • Hillsboro Beach – Beach re-nourishment.
  • Hollywood – North and South Lake seawall construction.

There are other programs available to cities that can be used to fund infrastructure projects that will combat sea level rise. In many cases, the sales tax funds that would be allocated to the cities could be used as matching funds, thereby increasing dollars available. Unfortunately, if the sales tax does not pass, most of the proposed projects will not be funded. According to Broward County Commissioner Beam Furr, there is no money available to complete any of these projects and they will die. Unless a city has any bonding capabilities available, it will be years before sea level issues will become a priority.

A half a penny can make a difference in the fight against rising seas. It is not too much to pay.

David Blattner

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