MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Concerns about sea level rising and the impacts to Miami-Dade County got a huge boost this week, as a private company stepped up and hired an engineering firm to help come up with solutions to the problem.
"It's an issue that we're going to be dealing with for really the next hundred years," said Miami-Dade County Chief Resilience Officer Jim Murley, speaking about the looming concern of rising sea level.
"Every time we have a storm or significant rain event or a high tide, what we call king tide in the fall, those things, those events, are made a little bit worse each time because the sea level rise is moving the elevation of the sea to the land a little bit higher," he said.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, if the world follows a low greenhouse gas pathway, sea level will likely rise 12 inches. But higher emissions will result in as much as 8.2 feet by the year 2100, resulting in a lot of Miami Beach property going underwater.
As a solution, the United States Army Corps of Engineers proposes building a large sea wall. But that option has come under fire because it would change the view and create other physical barriers.
As it would happen, there's now an alternative solution.
"The options are an initial barrier that is a submerged reef, which can become an oyster coral culture. Then there's berm, which is a mound that would basically help prevent the energy and dissipation the wave. It will be enhanced with mangroves and water and then have a boardwalk on top of it," explained Kieran Bowers, president of Swire Properties.
The private company got involved to help ensure whatever is built also maintains the aesthetic beauty of the community
Swire hired and paid for an engineering company to come up with the alternative to the sea walls.
"So it's kind of putting a series of natural speed bumps and to take out the energy of the waves and a storm surge and find ways that the water could then gently seep back into the bay after the storm has passed," Bowers said.
But whatever the final proposal, Murley said their goal is to come up with compromise that is not a sea wall.
"We're really working hard on that... to see if we can't find a strategy that allows us to be protected from that storm surge, but do it in a way that that it's not a significant impact to the community we know and love," he said.
Officials said the Army Corps of Engineers will present their proposal to Congress this fall to finalize funding. But in between now and then, there will be a lot of meetings with community stakeholders to finalize the plan.
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