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South Florida to receive more than $180 million for sea level rise projects

The Miami Herald
A car pushes through floodwaters off Southwest Third Street and Eighth Avenue in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida, on Saturday, June 4, 2022.

South Florida is getting more than $180 million of bigger pipes, stronger stormwater pumps and higher canals to deal with rising sea levels — the majority of this year’s state funds.

Governor Ron DeSantis announced the latest round of Resilient Florida grants on Monday afternoon. South Florida cities, which face the highest risk to life and property value from the two feet of sea level rise expected in the state by 2060, took home most of the $275 million pot.

“These awards will fund critical actions across inland and coastal areas to adapt legacy infrastructure and implement nature-based solutions that address current and projected sea level rise and flooding to minimize adverse impacts on Floridians and their families,” the state’s Chief Resiliency Officer, Wesley Brooks, wrote in a statement.

The cash will fund 75 projects ranging from raising the banks of the C-8 canal in North Miami-Dade to potentially turning a Miami Beach golf course into a park that holds floodwater to elevating roads in the Florida Keys. Broward County was the biggest winner with 16 projects topping $66 million.

Miami won nearly $10 million for flood improvements to the Auburndale neighborhood south of Little Havana. Sonia Brubaker, the city’s chief resilience officer, said in an email that the project will include new and bigger stormwater pipes and a reconstructed road that fights flooding in the area.

This is the third year that the Resilient Florida program, DeSantis’ major foray into climate adaptation funding, has given out grants. So far, the state has awarded more than $1.1 billion in funding to react to the symptoms of climate change, like rising tides and more powerful hurricanes.

But the need is far bigger.

In the program’s first years, Florida municipalities asked for $2.3 billion in grants, with South Florida cities asking for the lion’s share of that total at $1.8 billion.

This year, the state received 233 eligible applications asking for nearly $775 million, said Alexandra Kuchta, spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Protection. Additional projects will be selected for a new round of funding later this year for Florida’s statewide flooding and sea level rise resilience plan, she said.

And experts say the state’s funding, however welcome and necessary, only targets half the problem with climate change. It doesn’t tackle the actual cause — unchecked burning of fossil fuels.

View the complete list of grant-winning projects here.

This story was produced in partnership with the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a multi-newsroom initiative formed to cover the impacts of climate change in the state. 

Alex Harris - Miami Herald