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Tallahassee Silent on Sea Level Rise


The Army Corps of Engineers says the waters off Key West have risen 9 inches over the last century, and the water will continue to climb - although we don’t know how fast. There’s little to see at the state level as far as efforts to mitigate the effects of rising waters. Ultimately,the burden may fall on local governments.Coastal planning specialist Thomas Ruppert says sea level rise will be expensive in Florida, and taxpayers need to decide what they want the government to do about it.

“We’re going to hit a point at which we simply don’t have enough money to do all the armoring, nourishment, drainage and elevating that’s going to keep everybody happy", Ruppert explained. "We need these coastal communities that are going to have to foot a lot of the bill for all of this to have really good conversations with their constituents about where this money is going to come from.”

At the state level, Ruppert says lawmakers could tighten restrictions on coastal construction. He also thinks home sellers should be required to tell buyers about sea level rise statistics in their neighborhood.

But West Palm Beach Democratic Representative Mark Pafford says Tallahassee isn’t paying attention.

“At the end of the day, it’s going to cost money, and it’s not the local governments that are going to be able to handle this", Pafford said. "It’s going to be the state that needs to belly up to the bar and begin having a realistic discussion about sea level rise.”

Pafford thinks the state could create jobs and grow the economy by spearheading efforts to battle salt-water intrusion and coastal erosion. He is hoping for a workshop next spring among House members ready to begin the discussion.