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Geology Expert on Miami Beach's Counter-Flooding Measures: Money Down the Drain

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photo by maxstrz via Flicker Creative Commons

South Beach has a major flooding problem. Everyone knows it and with sea levels rising exponentially due to climate change, it's obviously only going to get worse.

The New Yorker ran a feature on Miami's flooding issues amid climate change. Within that piece is Harold Wanless, a chairman and a professor in the University of Miami Department of Geological Sciences, slamming Miami Beach's counter-flooding initiatives which include the pouring of hundreds of millions into the latest pump system, which some think is also ironically suffocating Biscayne Bay wildlife.

To cope with its recurrent flooding, Miami Beach has already spent something like a hundred million dollars. It is planning on spending several hundred million more. Such efforts are, in Wanless's view, so much money down the drain. Sooner or later—and probably sooner—the city will have too much water to deal with. Even before that happens, Wanless believes, insurers will stop selling policies on the luxury condos that line Biscayne Bay. Banks will stop writing mortgages. A common theme among experts in the field seems to be the water is going to overtake South Beach, it's just a matter of when. That it's up to us to formulate a plan to help mitigate the damage and ensure at least part of South Beach's survival, like Miami grad Isaac Stein's vision of a system of canals, mangroves, and stilts. Stein also was critical of the city's pump system, calling it a "band-aid for the larger issue."

· Siege of Miami [New Yorker]
· How to Save South Beach [Curbed Miami]