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Miami Beach making plans to cope with rising sea levels, flooding

The city has turned to sea walls, raised streets, and pumping stations.

November 13, 2015 |
Miami Beach making plans to cope with rising sea levels, flooding

Miami Beach. Photo: Daniel Chodusov/Creative Commons

Rising sea level is forcing the city of Miami Beach to plan for and implement measures to save infrastructure and mitigate flooding.

The city is already experiencing the impact of fair weather flooding during full-moon high tides when salt water seeps into storm drains and onto streets and sidewalks. Miami has the greatest total value of real estate assets exposed to flooding of any city in the world—more than $400 billion.

Two large pumping stations have already gone online, a move that has alleviated flooding in one part of Miami Beach. The city’s engineer wants to raise the lowest-lying streets on the west side of the island. Once they’re two feet higher, streets and sidewalks in many places will loom above the doorways of existing buildings, pouring water into them when it rains.

In the long run these measures will be unable to prevent the inevitable, according to climatologists. Before the turn of the century, the most pessimistic forecasters say that Miami and surrounding Dade County will be nothing more than an archipelago similar to the present day Florida Keys. At that point, the Keys will be fully submerged, experts predict.

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