Miami-Dade turns to nature to combat sea-level rise

sewer plant wetlands

Jenny Staletovich (Miami Herald) reports on how Miami-Dade County, Florida, “long criticized for being too slow to take on climate change,” is now working with the Nature Conservancy and global engineering firm CH2M to look at the region’s natural defenses to sea rise. The team hopes to show that natural defenses to sea-level rise, including mangroves and coral reefs susceptible to climate change, can lower construction costs and lead to better conservation efforts. Here are excerpts:

On Tuesday, Chief Resilience Officer Jim Murley unveiled two pilot projects for the modeling, including the county’s sprawling wastewater treatment plant near Cutler Bay, where about $1 billion in infrastructure is already vulnerable to flooding from high tides and storms. Earlier this month, a new study found that if South Florida continues growing as projected, more of its residents will be at risk from sea rise than in any other state. The state also has the most amount of property at risk. [. . .]

CH2M, which is overseeing the county’s $3.3 billion effort to stop dumping wastewater — under a statewide mandate —into the ocean by 2025, will try to quantify how much nearby marshes protect the low-lying plant from sea-level rise. The marshes are also part of a critical Everglades restoration project approved by Congress in 2000 aimed at restoring the natural flow of water to revive Biscayne Bay.

While CH2M’s modeling will focus on the plant, South Florida Area Manager Matt Alvarez said the firm plans to share any relevant findings with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the wetlands restoration. [. . .]

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