Florida’s 1,197 miles of coastline is only three feet above the rising ocean levels. The geology of the state makes it vulnerable to seawater encroachment. Billions of dollars’ worth of buildings, roads and infrastructure lie on highly porous limestone that leaches water. It is predicted that South Florida will be under six feet or more of water before the end of the century due to rising sea levels.
In June 2019, a new report was released by the Center for Climate Integrity Center in partnership with the engineering firm, Resilient Analytics. The first-of-its-kind report is titled, “High Tide Tax: The Price to Protect Coastal Communities from Rising Seas. It includes first-ever cost estimates for sea-level rise adaptation and rankings by coastal cities, counties, states, and congressional districts in the contiguous U.S.
Using moderate (not worst-case) sea-level rise projections for the year 2040 and storm surge expected to be seen every year, the report identified 132 counties where costs will exceed $1 billion, and 14 states where costs for these minimal defenses will exceed $10 billion. Florida ranked number one on the list with a cost of $75,898,048,000.
In August, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced the award of a $125,000 resiliency grant to improve the management of Sarasota County beaches. In a press release they said the funding would aid the development of a comprehensive vulnerability study and subsequent resilience plan that will allow federal, state and local officials to collaboratively and strategically plan for sea level rise along sandy shorelines of Sarasota County.
“Beaches are economic drivers for the state and are part of our way of life, and recognizing this, we continue to make restoration of our beaches a priority. It is no surprise that this region will be leading the way in addressing the importance of incorporating sea level rise into our beach management strategy as well as a regional approach to this effort,” said Senator Gruters.
“DEP is proud to be able to provide grant funding to support this important study,” said Secretary Valenstein. “Under the Governor’s leadership, DEP is making it a priority to support our coastal communities in the planning and preparation for the 2 to 3 feet of sea level rise our state is expected to experience by 2060.”
The award is especially important as Sarasota County has nearly 35 miles of sandy shorelines, of which 24.2 miles have been designated as critically eroding. The County does not currently have a resilience plan for coastal management that addresses current conditions, existing management strategies and projected sea level rise. This first of its kind study will allow partner agencies to build resilient beach and dune systems that will continue to provide recreational and natural resource benefits to residents and visitors, and reduce flooding and storm erosion damage to upland property. A county-wide resilience plan will also outline roles and responsibilities for the four main local coastal management sponsors.