Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Fascinating: Alton Road flyover closure is a stark illustration of what lies ahead for sewage management and FPL Turkey Point

News that a heavily trafficked access to Miami Beach is going to be closed so new pumps can be added to prevent cars and property from being ruined by salt water is a signal of sea level rise and its costs.

For the time being, adding new pumps to remove water pushed into pipes by higher seas will work. But only for a time. In the case of Alton Road, the water that is making driving difficult and dangerous will be pumped to an area of less pressure, but it is water being pumped back into water nonetheless with the circular effectiveness of a dog chasing its own tail.

The difference between short-term and long-term solutions to climate change mitigation is that short-term solutions are band-aids like the new pumps to be installed by (who funds sea level rise mitigation?) the Florida Department of Transportation.

Those band aids will get very costly, depending on the speed of sea level rise. Take for example, the $1.5 billion that Miami-Dade taxpayers are being asked to fund by the county commission, to put band aids on the wastewater infrastructure serving 2 million residents. That cost does not even acknowledge sea level rise. Or, what about the $20 billion in new nuclear reactors planned at Turkey Point, in the lowest lying region of South Florida? Environmentalists shouldn't be the only ones complaining.

Right now, putting band aids on flooding problems or more sand on beaches seems the right choice. There is that dog chasing its own tail again.

Forward-thinking people would ask the question, what next?, using all available science and information about where sea level rise is headed and who, ultimately, will be able to pay the bills.

Dr. Harold Wanless, chairman of the Department of Geological Science at the University of Miami and climate change expert, speaks plainly of the issue: we should be planning to relocate key infrastructure to higher ground, as a matter of national security, now. He doesn't have much company, yet, in his assessment.

Taxpayers should glean from the Alton Road flyover closure some sobering insights. On the other hand, being insightful is not a hallmark of life in the Sunshine State.


Anonymous said...

This illustrates how Miami governments just won't have enough funds for climate change defense/resilience/retrofitting and the Feds and state won't either. Right now Miami Beach is in the process selling bonds to finance the elaborate convention center - will they also be able to issue bonds for sea level rise issues. Will there be enough revenues to pay all this back in coming years? Resilience expenditures may bankrupt govts. But not doing something will also bankrupt when sea level rise drives the population out?

Anonymous said...

Miami Beach is cooked, they have so tons of outstanding bond debt. They can only hope that a convention center will bring in more than the few millions than it already does. Not going to happen.

Anonymous said...

The end of the road has been in sight for a long time. It's every man for himself out there and that aint gonna change. No way.

Matthew Speath said...

This system will work fine. All you need to do is to add flap-gates to the ends of the discharge pipes, this will allow water to discharge through the pipes and function normally while tide levels are low and when tide levels rise, the hydrostatic pressure of the water on the seaward side will keep the flap gates closed keeping water on the seward side out. Any accumlated water due to collected rainfall will then be pumped out with the new pumping system. Very similar to a bilge pump system (for all you boaters out there)