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Tampa Planning To Deal With Rising Seas

Photo of downtown Tampa waterfront
City of Tampa
Water surrounds downtown Tampa on three sides

Tampa is in the midst of a study to determine what course of action should be taken to minimize the impact of rising seas in the next several decades.

Tampa is conducting a $75,000 study to determine the city's risk from rising seas.

Planners will produce a report on best practices for both new developments and existing homeowners who live in low-lying areas and want to minimize any impact.

During a webinar update on the project, Forbes Tompkins of the Pew Charitable Trusts said the impacts of rising seas can be considerable.

"Sunny day flooding from high tides in low-lying communities, it can be flooded homes and businesses," he said. "Stormwater drainage systems can become overwhelmed - actually reversing their intended purpose of removing water from a community and then serving actually as an entry point for floodwaters during high tides events and coastal storms."

Sea level rise projections through 2100
City of Tampa
Sea level rise projections through 2100

The state-funded study is looking at the question of what parts of the city will be most affected by the inexorable rise of the oceans, and how the city can plan for its impact. That includes creative land use planning, and restrictions and regulations on building in low-lying areas.

Randy Goers, the city's planning director, said they'll be using science as a basis for their planning changes.

"We think this is going to start a discussion on sea level rise and regulation - which we don't expect an answer in this project, we expect to maybe have some ideas - but it will take several months of communication with our community," he said.

Planners will produce a report on best practices for both new developments, as well as for existing homeowners, who will be impacted by rising seas and want to know what they can do over time to minimize the impact. The study is scheduled to be completed by the end of April.

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