Sunday, September 22, 2019

Are Seawalls the real answer to Florida’s Sea-Level Rise problem?


As many states struggle with the looming impact of sea-level rise, Florida stands out as the state with the biggest problem.

Tampa Bay, Fl 
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD 

Sea-level rise will be a major issue in the Tampa Bay region, with reports estimating the impact in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties could reach over $5 billion in the coming years.

Here is more information on the coming sea-level rise problem from the Tampa Bay Times by Kirby Wilson: Florida could face $76 billion in climate change costs by 2040, report says.
The Tampa Bay Times article focuses on seawalls and only makes a casual reference to the possibility the seawalls may not be the total answer.

The real questions to ask at this point is this large scale highly costly public works effort at holding back the sea:
1. Will they really work?
2. What is the ongoing cost and maintenance?
3. Can they ever be constructed high enough to protect from storm surge and remain in tack?
4. Who stands to profit from these massive public works projects?

Here is some additional information.

Reports and studies like the one in the Tampa Bay Times article are being floated about by the rapidly growing Sea-Level rise industry that will bring massive construction  projects to local, county, state and federal governments and agencies in an attempt to create what could likely challenge the interstate highway system in size, level of effort and cost.

Public works projects such as seawalls of the size and scope necessary to mitigate the projected sea level impact may not be effective.

An article from Yale Coastal Connections by Jan Ellen Spiegel:
As Sea Levels Rise, How Best to Protect Coasts details some of the concerns and impacts of man made solid coastal barriers.

As sea-level rise begins to attack the affluent seaside neighborhoods, coastal high-rise developments and coastal communities, the cry will be to save this private property from the rising water. These pleas will be delivered to all levels of government and the pressure to make the attempt to hold back the inevitable will be immense.

In the not too distant future, the Federal Flood Insurance program must begin to remove these projected flooding areas from coverage, or it will quickly go bankrupt. Private insurance carriers too will need to make changes to protect themselves from a known property loss risk.

As the sea-level rise process continues, the lack of insurance coverage and rapidly dropping property values will make selling and financing properties in sea-level rise areas all but impossible.

Governments at all levels must be aware of the consequences of investing in sea walls or other physical barriers to protect specific pieces of private property.

The time has come to restrict flood prone area development and redevelopment, to begin to set aside funds to acquire low level lying property and convert it to green space to mitigate the financial impact of the sea-level rise.

The financial impacts of climate change and sea-level rise in Florida are significant as indicated in the article referenced above.

It is time to apply some common sense before we begin building seawalls.

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