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Combating Sea Level Rise In Broward With '$200 Million On New Storm Water Infrastructure'

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – With sea level expected to rise an additional two feet in south Florida by the 2050s, cities in Broward County are starting to incorporate that reality into their future plans.

In Fort Lauderdale, where most houses are just five feet above sea level, the city has adopted an aggressive approach to dealing with sea level rise.

A telltale sign that the ocean is rising are the more frequent flood events, especially during the king tide season in the fall.

So Fort Lauderdale is taking a multipronged approach to dealing with sea level rise, starting with a sweeping plan to increase the height of sea walls.

One recently completed seawall is along Cordova Road in the city's southeast section. The seawall is now five-feet high and abuts a series of waterways leading to the ocean.

Resident Leila Percy says it has made a difference. She says water in front of her home used to come up to her garage door during king tides but since the wall was installed, it hasn't happened.

And there's more.

"We are about to spend $200 million on new storm water infrastructure to deal with sea level rise," said Dr. Nancy Gassman, who is head of resilience. "In all master plans we have incorporated sea level rise projections as well as what type of materials to be used.  So as ground water levels go up we will see more levels of salt content in the ground.  So we have to install pipes that will withstand the corrosive effects of the salt."

The city has adopted a net zero carbon footprint goal for 2040.  That means a switch to electric vehicles and renewable energy sources. And Dr. Gassman says the city is beginning the conversation on raising the roads to combat flooding.

"If we can get the globe on track to reduce greenhouse gases we will stay in a more reasonable part of the projections for sea level rise," she said.

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