Saturday, October 22, 2011

Florida needs huge investment in water infrastructure

TCPalm (Florida): Florida Atlantic University science and engineering researchers within the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and College of Engineering and Computer Science today released a study indicating that climate change will cause significant impacts on Southeast Florida’s water infrastructure, attributable to sea level rise and growing variation in seasonal rainfall patterns with more intense periods of drought alternating with increased torrential rainfall events.

The research report, “Southeast Florida’s Resilient Water Resources,” and the case study titled “Improving the Resilience of a Municipal Water Utility” exemplified that — as a consequence of climate change impacts — Southeast Florida water utilities will face a number of challenges, including inundation of low-lying coastal areas; saltwater contamination of well fields; malfunction of septic tanks and drainage systems; reduction in soil capacity to store rainfall; and reduced efficiency of stormwater drainage canals and flood gates, among others. Strategies to manage these challenges would require substantial economic investments in the order of $500 million to $1 billion over the next 70 to 100 years. To support these improvements, household utility bills could increase by as much as $100 per month.

“Significant challenges to the water systems in Southeast Florida due to climate change are expected to begin within the next two decades. Water managers will have to contend with increasing saltwater intrusion and more intense drought. Furthermore, risk of flooding will increase as a result of more intense rain storms coupled with sea level rise that will cause reduced capacity of flood control systems,” said Barry Heimlich, research affiliate with the FAU’s Florida Center for Environmental Studies, who led the study. “Early notice of this study’s findings helped raise awareness of these issues and encouraged regional water managers to incorporate climate change in water resource planning and begin development of flexible adaptation strategies to be implemented over the coming decades.”...

An alligator in a Tampa aquarium, shot by Adobemac, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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