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Front Page » Top Stories » Sea Level Study Gets Short Time Leash

Sea Level Study Gets Short Time Leash

Written by on June 20, 2013

A proposed Miami-Dade County Sea Level Rise Task Force would have 220 days to determine all potential impact of sea level rises on the county, recommend what the county should do in the face of those challenges and then wash away.

The county commission’s Land Use and Development Committee forwarded the proposal to the full county commission with no discussion last week other than a comment by Chairman Jose "Pepe" Diaz that "It’s new to me why we’re doing it locally but I’m sure [commission Chair Rebeca Sosa, who sponsored the measure] has a good reason."

Mr. Diaz suggested that we should look to federal studies and monitoring of the issue.

The resolution would create a five-member task force "to review existing studies, scientific reports and other relevant information to determine the current realistic impact of sea level rise on Miami-Dade County vital facilities, real estate, waterfront property, vital water resources and infrastructure."

The stated purpose of the study is "to provide a comprehensive and realistic assessment of the likely and potential impacts of sea level rise and storm surge over time, which shall be used to help develop a set of recommendations relative to amendments to the Comprehensive Development Master Plan, capital facilities planning, budgetary priorities and other county programs as necessary to ensure that Miami-Dade County is taking all appropriate actions to reduce its contributions to climate-induced sea level rise and to ensure its resiliency to that increase in sea level rise, storm surge and related impacts which are expected to occur."

The proposed resolution notes that the county had in July 2006 created a Miami-Dade Climate Advisory Task Force that advised the county commission on measures the county might take but was dissolved in 2011 — at which point the county stopped looking at sea level rises and what to do about them.

The proposed team is to suffer the same fate after just over seven months. The legislation suggests no mechanism to view the situation after that time or to maintain any county initiatives related to sea levels.

But while the legislation is vague about action and continuity, it is quite specific about the task force membership and appointment niceties.

Each member would bring specifics to the table:

nOne would have expertise in civil engineering with a focus on infrastructure.

nOne would be expert in one either climatology, geophysics, coastal management, oceanography, coastal science, or several of those specialties.

nOne would be an expert in "community and real estate development."

nOne would be expert in emergency management.

nOne would have expertise in economics.

All members, the legislation says, "should have reputations for integrity and community service."

A detailed explanation of how they’d be appointed would allow experts in the various categories to submit their qualifications to Clerk of the Board Harvey Ruvin, who himself is both a former county commissioner and concerned about the issue. Commissioners would concurrently nominate candidates.

The county commission itself would then select task force members. The legislation makes clear that they are advisory only and have no power other than to advise commissioners of their findings and recommendations. The county commission would also select the task force’s chairman and vice chairman.To read the entire issue of Miami Today online, subscribe to e-MIAMI TODAY, an exact digital replica of the printed edition.