SIM Social Impact Movement

What Miami is Doing About Sea-Level Rise

Author: Gabi Jonikas

aerial view of miami florida skyline

Because Miami is surrounded by major bodies of water such as the Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay and many rivers, lakes, and canals, its community is very prone to damage caused by sea-level rise. In order to combat this effect of climate change on the city, it’s identifying and developing financially-feasible solutions to prepare for sea-level rise and coastal storms.

Rapid Action Plan

The Rapid Action Plan is a capital planning approach that takes notice of the impact of climate change on county-owned facilities. Its purpose is to help Miami ensure that all facilities and projects are appropriately designed for sea level rise and storm surge. RAP analyzed the vulnerability of county-owned infrastructure and established the criticality of each asset in order to determine the possibility of sea-level rise and storm surge impacts to all projects in the current capital plan.

Partnerships

Miami-Dade County is co-leading The Greater Miami and the Beaches Resilient Challenge, a multi-jurisdictional partnership to ensure Miami, its beaches, and the surrounding region continue to thrive in the coming years as sea waters rise and average global temperatures increase. Additionally, they are supporting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ ongoing studies to reduce potential damage resulting from coastal storms. This includes the Back Bay Study, which examines the impacts of as well as potential responses to storm surge damage to coastal and inland areas in Miami, and the Coastal Storm Risk Management Study, which evaluates coastal storm risk measures and structure implementation. 

Local Mitigation Strategy

Local mitigation strategy plans are intended to reduce Miami’s vulnerability to long-term risks such as sea-level rise, as well as short term impacts such as hurricanes. This can be accomplished by being prepared and tackling infrastructure projects. The Miami-Dade Office of Emergency Management runs a Local Mitigation Strategy workgroup that meets quarterly to provide updates and information on how to help local communities with mitigation. Additionally, residents are encouraged to make a mitigation plan which could consist of assessing their risks to determine to what extent their residence may be vulnerable to damage, investing in insurance, boarding up their windows and coming up with an evacuation plan. 

Infrastructure Improvements

Miami is taking many measures to improve their infrastructure. In an effort to measure and monitor King Tide flooding, Miami is exploring raising roads to reduce flooding associated with these tides. They are also installing pump stations to help facilitate faster drainage, protecting current buildings with temporary floor panels to keep the water out, and building new infrastructure higher to ensure that their wastewater and water systems are resilient to future storm surges. 

Nature-Based Solutions

There are several nature-based solutions Miami is implementing to tackle sea-level rise. These include beach re-nourishment, which protects beaches from sea and wind erosion, and shoreline restoration for living shorelines, an innovative and cost-effective technique for coastal management. Additionally, Miami is providing space with their parks and Environmentally Endangered Lands program for water to travel and provide a buffer between high tides and developed areas, which helps reduce flood damages and improve water quality and ecosystems.