The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing a $4.6 billion investment to address storm surge risk in our region. This proposal, called the "Back Bay Study," proposes a range of "grey" infrastructure options like seawalls and flood gates, but largely leaves out nature-based solutions like mangrove and restoration and living shorelines. You can read the full proposal HERE.
Miami-Dade County as well as the Miami Downtown Development Authority (Miami DDA) recently submitted formal letters to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) advocating for nature-based features (NNBF) as alternatives to the Corps’ proposed seawalls and flood gates as well as consideration of the detrimental economic impact of such grey infrastructure. Both the County and Miami DDA’s letters echo some of the concerns of community partners, including Miami Waterkeeper. The Miami DDA's letter also includes renderings visualizing the differences among proposed seawalls and nature-based alternatives.
(Source: Back Bay Proposal Renderings, provided by Miami DDA)
The USACE’s Back Bay Study falls short in a number of ways. To begin, it does not prioritize community equity across Miami-Dade County, particularly as under-resourced communities are on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Additionally, the Plan does not consider nature-based solutions (NNBFs) and rather favors ‘grey-infrastructure’ as a preliminary solution to increased flooding and storm surge. In sum, in its current form, the project creates equity problems, exposes areas to increased flooding, and does not address chronic flooding.
The DDA's letter stresses that the Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP), as proposed now, "will have an overwhelmingly detrimental effect on the entire waterfront area of Miami DDA district as well as greater Downtown and the County." The letter also states proposed flood walls south of the river would render certain infrastructure "obsolete," and emphasizes that given our porous limestone bedrock, erecting flood walls as proposed could exacerbate flooding conditions especially due to sea level rise. The County's letter requests inclusion of additional NNBFs in the TSP, and emphasizes the necessity of equitable investments to address storm surge risk across all neighborhoods.
Environmental stakeholders Ocean Conservancy and the Tropical Audubon Society have also recently submitted formal letters to the USACE. These letters urge the Corps' consideration of NNBFs, prioritization of community equity, and attention to marine life health and longevity in light of the recent fish kill event in Biscayne Bay. Read their letters HERE and HERE, respectively.
Public comment period on the Back Bay Study closed August 19, 2020.
Read Miami-Dade County's full letter HERE.
Read the Miami DDA’s full letter HERE.
For more information on this topic, click HERE.