The Coastal Star

Letter to the Editor: Need to plan for rising seas gains more urgency

Thank you for your excellent coverage of the septic-to-sewer issue in Ocean Ridge and surrounding coastal communities. We must, however, face the reality that during the estimated 10 years such a conversion would take, residents’ lives will be significantly disrupted while we are paying millions of dollars, our roadways are constantly torn up and additional hookup costs and user fees lurk.
Further, transferring from septic to centralized sewer will not stop sea level rise now occurring due to the warming climate. In 10 years, some roads will need to be abandoned, due to the extraordinary expense of elevating them. This is already happening in the Florida Keys.
Equally alarming, most of the processing facilities for coastal sewer systems are at the lowest elevation due to gravity flow.
Many such sewer sites are themselves at high risk of flooding, compromising the plant. These plants will need to be re-sited and upgraded, costing the public millions more to correct.
A more prudent expenditure of our funds would be to conduct a survey, as Monroe County/Key West has done, to determine which of our streets will have to be either abandoned or elevated and then issue a budget to cover such expenses.
It is urgent that Ocean Ridge, Hypoluxo Island (which on its own is particularly vulnerable), Manalapan and all the coastal and barrier island towns consider the upcoming costs associated with sea level rise.
The urgency arises because sea level increase is now known to be occurring much faster than previously predicted. All these communities are now experiencing periodic flooding cycles. Many of these roads are at near sea level most of the year.
Our failure to plan and budget for the inevitable would be irresponsible. We ignore it at our own peril. Property values will soon plummet, and insurance companies will no longer offer coverage for property in such high-risk areas.

Terry Brown,
Ocean Ridge

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