Dutch meet with water managers in Miami Beach

Miami Beach Public Works Department, South Florida Water Management District meet over flooding

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Representatives from the Netherlands met with water managers in Miami Beach about flooding there due to rising sea levels.

A presentation was held at Miami Beach City Hall Monday with officials from the Miami Beach Public Works Department and South Florida Water Management District.

The Netherlands, where 60 percent of the country is below sea level, is considered a global leader in flood mitigation. The country uses a network of pop-up inflatable and a series of water blocking gates to protect its costal community.

"Lately, over the past decade, we have started with different types of approaches, like living with water instead of fighting the water, because fighting the water -- the sea will always win," said Simone Filippini with the Netherlands Consulate General in Miami.

"The Dutch have made these technologies incredibly successful," said Tommy Strowd with the South Florida Water Management District.

Strowd presented an overview of climate change considerations, adaptation and mitigation in South Florida during the meeting Monday.

"Again, they are specific to the areas of the Netherlands, so what they do may not be exactly replicable here, but the concepts may be something to look at," he added.

Because of its low-lying features, Miami Beach is prone to flooding.

"We all have come to the conclusion that there is sea level rise. It is happening," said Kathie Brooks, the interim city manager of Miami Beach. "We are no longer questioning (whether) it's man-made or it's not because it really doesn't matter. It's happening. What we also don't know is how fast it's happening. We have varying level of projections, continuing at the same rate is has been versus different levels of accelerated rates, so that still remains the unknown."

A National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) study predicts that much of South Florida will be underwater by the year 2100.

"There are challenges here in Miami Beach. We are an island; we're not part of a mainland. That kind of, maybe restricts some of the solutions that we can do, so I think we need to learn a little bit more," said Brooks. "There's obviously sensitivity in our enviroment that we have here. Our coastline, our coral reefs, our sea grasses in the bed -- we can't just go and engineer and put in place structures that might have an impact."

"You say, okay, we have more or less the same challenges, same type of challenges, but the solutions will always be different but we can help each other with solutions," added Filippini.

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