FAU Study: Coping With Climate Change in Florida May Cost as Much as $1 Billion

Not long after the Broward County Natural Resources Planning and Management Division released its report detailing how rising sea levels could cause major flooding across Fort Lauderdale, Florida Atlantic University has released its own report detailing climate change in South Florida and how to combat its effects.

Again, it's the rising sea levels -- as well as changing weather patterns -- that are predicted to seriously affect the water infrastructure in South Florida, which could cost as much a $1 billion over the next 70 to 100 years to fix.

The 74-page report details the many, many problems cities and the state will face due to climate change, including flooding, saltwater contamination, the malfunction of septic tanks and drainage systems, more droughts, and increases in heat-related and insect-born diseases.

"Significant challenges to the water systems in Southeast Florida due to climate change are expected to begin within the next two decades. Water managers will have to contend with increasing saltwater intrusion and more intense drought. Furthermore, risk of flooding will increase as a result of more intense rain storms coupled with sea level rise that will cause reduced capacity of flood control systems," says Barry Heimlich, leader of the FAU study. "Early notice of this study's findings helped raise awareness of these issues and encouraged regional water managers to incorporate climate change in water resource planning and begin development of flexible adaptation strategies to be implemented over the coming decades."

Aside from the lengthy appendix to the report attempting to explain to people that climate change is a real concept, there is a ton of policy changes the report outlines to cope with the changing environment -- planning, land use and building regulations, water management, transportation and other infrastructure changes, conservation of land and marine systems, beach management, emergency preparedness, insurance, state funding, economic development, and the organization of state government.

There are stacks of critical issues listed underneath each of the aforementioned areas of change the researches say are necessary, and each section provides state policy options to be considered.

For example, when dealing with transportation and infrastructures, the researchers say:

Tourism and international trade are key components of the Florida economy. How will sea level rise affect the movement of people and goods in and out of Florida's seaports and airports? How will it affect the $4 billion per year marine and fishing industry?

There are then ten policy options to be considered when dealing with transportation and infrastructure, including several advocating for state agencies to include climate changes in their plans, ban the construction of bridges to barrier islands that are at high risk from rising sea levels and storm surges, and create a task force to examine how climate should be incorporated into infrastructure planning.

Check out the FAU report (don't worry; it has pictures and graphs) by clicking here.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley