sea level rise blog

Miami Waterkeeper and Partners Submit Comments on Army Corps Back Bay Study

Matheson Hammock Park experiencing continued inundation (2019)

Miami Waterkeeper, in collaboration with Catalyst Miami and the Miami Foundation, recently provided comments to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on the Miami-Dade County “Back Bay” Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study. The study, designed to achieve improved resiliency from storm surge, targets flood-prone areas of Miami such as Little River and the Miami River, Cutler Bay, Arch Creek, and Aventura. Proposals for the project include building flood gates, floodwalls, and surge barriers, along with possible elevation of property and relocation. You can view the public meeting package of documents here. In our comments, we addressed concerns and made recommendations that asked the USACE for greater focus, definition, and expansion of the project's scope and objectives. 

The letter addressed key areas of concern such as harm to existing communities and infrastructure and community vulnerability. Specifically, our comments noted that while the proposed project is designed around storm surge, Miami has additional flooding concerns related to sea-level rise, groundwater, aquifer protection, canals, and restoration projects that should also be taken into consideration. Floodwall projects could also disrupt the livability of the neighborhoods being divided.

Our recommendations also included a review of critical infrastructure, recommended focus on projects with multiple benefits and local support, and comprehensive evaluation of green infrastructure projects. Our comments advised that sites such as brownfields and other contaminated areas should be identified and considered in the project scope, and that evacuation routes and centers should be included in the planning. We also asked for consideration of the region’s flood concerns as well as cultural and social influences, with a greater emphasis on green infrastructure (living shorelines, coral reef and dune restoration, and construction of mangrove barrier islands) than what has currently been proposed.

Miami Waterkeeper believes that storm protection is critically important to the residents and visitors of South Florida, but the current trajectory of the Back Bay projects are concerning. The letter specifically notes that there is a "dire need for flood mitigation support in our region" and "we want to ensure that projects selected [for this study] have significant economic, environmental and community benefits." 

For more information on the Back Bay study and our work to build a resilient South Florida, please click here

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