Friday, April 20, 2018

'Man the pumps' to save Miami Beach from a rising ocean?

An anti-flooding water pump roars at full capacity at Maurice Gibb Park in Miami Beach due to the beginning of King Tide last October. (C.M. GUERRERO photo)

Alex Harris reports in The Miami Herald:

Miami Beach's $500 million attempt to elevate and pump itself out of sea level rise's path has drawn criticism, but an expert panel concluded Thursday that the city's doing what it needs to survive.
The question of Miami Beach's future, whether the community stands a chance in the face of rising seas, was an unspoken theme in every interview the panel held this week, said Mark Osler, a national practice leader in Coastal Science and Engineering with Michael Baker International.
"Our professional opinion is that the outcome is uncertain, and it is in your hands," he said, to audible gasps from the audience. Osler said the panel believes the city has a future if the public and the government work together on solutions and don't let up on the push to enact them.
The experts praised the city for "acting with courage" to start construction on the elevated roads and pumps that have left streets dramatically drier after floods — provided, of course, the power isn't knocked out in a storm.
That's not to say the island's engineering-first, green-solutions-never approach drew perfect marks. The experts, a nine-member panel convened by the Urban Land Institute, called for a more comprehensive plan for living with water and increased transparency with the public on what's changing and why.
The city should embrace more "green" infrastructure, they said, like parks to soak up floodwater and mangroves to lessen wave impacts on the coast, in addition to "gray" infrastructure like elevated roads and sea walls. A group of Harvard graduate students recommended a similar approach last week.
The panel also critiqued the city on water quality, a topic that wasn't included in the panel's scope and became a controversial issue following a Florida International University scientist's discovery that the city's pumps push more pollutants into the bay.

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