By BLANCHE HARDY, PG
The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) has finalized its 2023 District Sea Level Rise and Flood Resiliency Plan. The report contains informative maps and tables that allow quick access to local data.
This summer, the District incorporated public comments into its final plan, crafted to actively address the impacts of rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and changing rainfall and flood patterns within the region.
The plan is used to update its priority projects for the Department of Environmental Protection’s Statewide Flooding and Sea level Rise Resilience Plan, which is submitted to the Governor and Legislature annually by Sept. 1.
The plan includes regional resiliency projects and outlines the District’s approach to the challenges posed by a changing climate on water resources including water supply. SFWMD is committed to addressing the impacts of land development and population growth combined with climate change influences affecting the District’s nine million residents in 16 counties in the southern half of the state of Florida.
The report will assist the District in updating and enhancing water management infrastructure throughout the Central & South Florida Flood Control System and in the Big Cypress Basin. The proposed projects are based upon a decade of vulnerability assessments.
The District uses tools, such as the integrated modeling efforts within the Flood Protection Level of Service (FPLOS) Program to aid in understanding risk as flood vulnerability. The process identifies cost-effective implementation strategies to assure each basin can maintain its designated flood protection level of service under current and projected conditions. The District also evaluates climate change and sea level rise when considering infrastructure projects to be included in its Capital Improvement Plan.
In addition to projects within the C&SF System and Big Cypress Basin flood control infrastructure, proposed project recommendations include basin-wide flood adaptation strategies based upon other FPLOS recommendations and water supply and water resources protection efforts.
The District has added a “self-preservation mode” function for water control structures, including enhancements to the C-9 canal, construction of the South Miami-Dade Curtain Wall, L31E Levee improvements, and the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area Hydrologic Restoration and Levee Resiliency project. Each will help manage flood control and assist in protecting water supply and the environment.
Coastal mangroves are included in the plan as part of the Everglades Mangrove Migration Assessment Pilot Study. The pilot study hopes to capture the adaptive foundational resilience of the coastal wetlands to assess the ability of the wetlands to adapt to rising sea levels via enhanced soil elevation change.
The Plan includes an updated version of the multicriteria ranking system developed to support the assessment of vulnerable areas in South Florida. This ranking approach helps identify the most critical infrastructure and vulnerable areas while considering basin-wide resiliency needs. Recommendations to incorporate sustainable energy sources and to utilize the most efficient designs whether infrastructure or nature-based are also included within the projects.
Project cost estimates are included in the Plan and the District is seeking funding alternatives at the State and Federal levels to help fund implementation of project recommendations. The Plan’s projects are intended to benefit South Florida’s communities and environment. State, tribal, private, and local governments were included in the planning process and consideration is given to the needs of socially vulnerable communities and protected environmental areas.