Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Miami-Dade's Doug Yoder to speak today about "CLIMATE READY" Infrastructure to national audience, except that Miami-Dade County is NOT CLIMATE READY … by Albert Slap

(Note by gimleteye: Albert Slap is an advisor to Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, the lead organization in federal court fighting the proposed consent decree between the US EPA and Miami-Dade County. Readers will recall (search our archives) that Miami-Dade County is guilty of violating the Clean Water Act in the horrendous wastewater infrastructure serving over two million residents plus annual visitors and (virtually for free) the cruise ship industry.

Doug Yoder is a career executive with Miami Dade Water and Sewer and the agency's point person in federal litigation pitting Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper against the county and US EPA. The key point -- EOM readers will recognize -- is the unstated yet official policy of Miami-Dade County to subsidize low cost growth and incentivize construction and development by holding water rates to some of the lowest in the nation. Now, Miami-Dade County taxpayers are not only being asked to play catch up, but to fund nearly two billion of infrastructure 'improvements' that have NOT been calibrated to account for rising sea levels due to climate change. To be climate ready would entail accepting much higher costs. Note that municipalities like the City of Miami Beach are in the midst of a half billion dollar investment just to solve flooding problems on local roadways and predicted worsening in coming years. Ignoring water while claiming to be a good steward of water resources is a defining characteristic of Miami-Dade County. But the county is scarcely the only irresponsible drunk at the bar. There is the state of Florida and US EPA on either side. The conflicts between the state and federal government are constantly at play in the unrelenting, unremitting politics of division driven by the extreme right. Through the decades, the EPA has been in a position of near-constant capitulation notwithstanding the GOP's mao-maoing on 'the burden of unnecessary regulation'. It is enough to make an honest man tear his hair out.)

The US EPA is hosting a “EPA Climate Ready Water Utilities Webinar – 4/9/14" called, "Decision-Making in Practice-Florida Case Studies/ An introduction to how utilities in Florida are using different planning methods to prepare for projected climate impacts." The presenters will share their experiences planning for sea-level rise, storm surge, saltwater intrusion and rainfall variability.” The time is: 1 - 2 pm EST. If you are interested to hear one of the speakers at the webinar, Miami-Dade WASD top executive Doug Yoder, register here:

It will be interesting to listen to what Doug Yoder has to say in light of his sworn deposition and MDC’s sworn answers to interrogatories in Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper’s case against Miami-Dade County.

Recall that Yoder and Miami-Dade County have admitted the following:

1. The consent decree with EPA was never based on any sea level rise model, such as the US Army Corps of Engineers’ model (which is part of the 4-County Climate Compact), even though the design period of the sewer system rebuild extends to the year 2075. Zero sea level rise is the current basis of design.

2. The consent decree never contained and does not now contain (nor is there any formal commitment) any requirement to make the MDC sewer system rebuild climate ready. MDC has no specific plans for preparing for climate impacts in the rebuild and no funds have been committed for such purposes. No site-specific vulnerability and adaptation studies have been done for the 3 POTWs or major pump stations in the MDC sewer system rebuild. Zero climate impact protection is the current basis of design.

3. MDC never even considered or studied climate impact protections for the consent decree rebuild of its 3 Publicly Owned Treatment Plants until Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper brought its Clean Water Act citizen suit on this and other issues. After receiving Waterkeeper’s expert reports showing the extreme vulnerability of the MDC POTWs from climate impacts (storm surge, flooding and sea level rise), MDC hired its own experts (Hazen and Sawyer) who agreed with Waterkeeper experts that climate impact protections were necessary. While the Hazen and Sawyer study was completed in early 2013, there is still no binding written commitment on the part of MDC to make the POTWs climate ready.
It will be interesting to see how the EPA, which has for two years fought “tooth and nail” against Waterkeeper and other groups' efforts to make the MDC multi-billion dollar sewer rebuild truly climate ready, will try to claim some moral “high ground”, here, when it has failed miserably to get MDC to raise up its planned sewer system rebuild one inch.

Mean sea level trend, Key West FL


Malagodi said...

In case you missed it, you can listen/download an audio of Yoder's presentation at :

I thought his remark that sea level rise projections will be incorporated into Miami-Dade water/sewer upgrades was interesting as I was under the impression that they would not... hence the lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

As Commissioner of District 7, I shared my vision to put the South Dade busway underground and reclaim the land to be used as a greenway along US-1. I held meetings to share this vision with leader of the municipalities along the corridor some time ago. Today's op-eds encouraged me t...o revitalize my efforts as a possible extension of the M-Path.!/xavier.suarez.92/photos/a.315756378563607.1073741825.254393671366545/379594888846422/?type=1&stream_ref=10