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Study Recommends How Tampa Should Address Sea Level Rise

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

City officials will have to take a look at the social, legal and economic impacts of some of their recommendations.

A $75,000 study to look at how sea level rise will affect the city of Tampa is on its way to the city council.

Planners wrapped up the study during a final presentation Wednesday night.
Their recommendations include building seawalls and raising water and sewer lines in floodplains. In other areas, creating natural buffer zones would work better than pouring more concrete. And development densities should be reduced in low-lying areas, while being raised on higher ground.

Brian Cook is with the Florida Center for Community Design and Research at the University of South Florida. He says you have to know what the community's goals and needs are before you start spending a lot of money.

"Those decisions should be made, and the sooner the better, about which way is a community going to go into the future," Cook said. "Are they going to put up and protect and try to stand their ground in the face of challenges, or are there going to be other strategies involved?"

 Sea level rise prediction chart
City of Tampa
Sea level rise predictions

Randy Goers is Tampa's planning director. He says they're taking the long view.

"So it's really trying to look at what is the city like 100 years from now and how can we plan for that in terms of encouraging more development to go in areas that won't be affected by sea level rise," he said.

Goers says city officials will have to take a look at the social, legal and economic impacts of some of their recommendations.

"In our minds, it makes sense when you're talking about a handful of properties," he said, "but when you start looking at large-scale parts of the city that might be affected, it becomes a big challenge. And what is the actual implementation in the end game?"

Map of areas of Tampa subject to sea level rise
City of Tampa
Areas of Tampa subject to sea level rise

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