The City of Miami is preparing to adapt to climate change with a plan that involves the investment of more than $3.8 billion over 40 years to mitigate the risk of future flooding from rising sea levels.
As the recently released Stormwater Master Plan reveals, the City of Miami will have to invest heavily in the installation of mega-stormwater pumps up to 6 feet in diameter to drain the seawater that will threaten to inundate the city’s coastal areas.
Even with these giant pumps, parts of the city of Miami will be affected by flooding as acknowledged by the city’s Deputy Director of Resiliency Chris Bennett: “There are some areas where you run the model, connecting the recommended pumping stations, drains, and wells, and you find minimal to no change with an investment in hundreds of millions in infrastructure.”
The solution to the fateful conclusions of the risk model will be to withdraw from those areas that will be swallowed by the sea and invest in expensive pumping infrastructure to prevent more sites from being affected by rising sea levels.
Miami is preparing to adapt to climate change, what actions will it take?
Although the amount of investment required is estimated at $3.8 billion, the total amount could be as high as $5.1 billion. The final figure will depend on the height of flooding caused by tropical storms.
The model has two scenarios, a 5-year storm that produces 7 inches of rain per day, and the second a 10-year storm that produces about 11 inches of rain every three days. For comparison, the 2020 Hurricane Eta (which flooded all of downtown Brickel), dumped between 5 and 7 inches of rain in a span of only two days.
With an investment of $3.8 billion, at least 93 mega-pumps will be installed throughout the city (in addition to the 13 that already exist today), which will drain the water and prevent future flooding. The pipes through which the drained water will be transported will have diameters between 4 and 8 feet.
Some of the water will be returned to the bay, but experts indicate that it could be loaded with material and polluting residues, dragged from the streets, which could endanger aquatic life if it is returned to the water without any treatment. Indeed, they will have to be treated and the city of Miami will have to allocate much more space to green areas. An action that would result in the allocation of space for planting trees and plants where cars currently drive.
The $3.8 billion only considers the costs of the construction of the drainage system; maintenance is not included in the study. The price of maintenance demands both money and a large number of workers. The City of Miami is likely to outsource the service to private firms in an attempt to save money, as Bennett explains: “We simply cannot staff the city with that many people.”
The other question is how the city will raise the funds to execute such an ambitious project, since after taking care of the county’s public spending, that leaves only $175 million available. In that sense, according to the study, Miami County will have to resort to a loan from the federal government and incur partnerships with the private sector to implement the drainage project that will keep the city afloat as ocean levels rise.