Tampa Bay’s preparation, or lack thereof, for catastrophic flooding will again be studied and scrutinized as the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council holds another resiliency conference on June 23.
Dubbed the Resilient Ready Tampa Bay Symposium, the event takes place from 1:30-5:30 p.m. at the Tampa River Center. It will be highlighted by the release of a new report that contains findings from an extensive examination of sites in Oldsmar, St. Pete Beach and Tampa by teams of urban planners and designers, landscape architects, engineers and hydrologists.
The three locations — North Tampa Closed Basin, Pass-a- Grill at St. Pete Beach, and R.E. Olds Park in Oldsmar — were chosen because they “represent common landscape types and were chosen to represent a spectrum of flood-related problems facing the region,” states Sarah Vitale, a senior planner and urban designer at the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, in the release. “These case studies can inspire and educate local leaders and help them to become more ‘resilient ready’ to face our region’s current and future compound flooding challenges.”
The studies that make up the report were made possible by a 2021 grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Resilient Coastline Program, which aims to promote a coordinated approach to coastal and inland resiliency. With sea levels expected to increase by as much as a foot within 30 years, organizations including TBRPC want to stoke a sense of urgency around the need to reinforce coastal communities in the Sunshine State.
“Florida, in some senses, is ground zero for climate change, sea level rise and flooding. Our planning and design processes must adapt and adjust for these pressures,” TBRPC Executive Director Sean Sullivan states in the release. “This project provides a toolkit for public and private sectors to use when exploring resilient construction and development projects.”
In addition to the death and injury toll from flooding, TBRPC says there’s a clear and convincing economic case to be made, citing a study from Brizaga, a Fort Lauderdale-based coastal engineering firm, that says the Tampa Bay area risks suffering $81.6 billion in property damage in the coming decades, while the real estate market could lose up to $16.9 billion in value. Unchecked flooding could also kill the region’s golden goose, tourism, by wiping out some $238 million, annually, in sales, tourism and property taxes.
The June 23 Resilient Ready Tampa Bay Symposium is sold out, but project updates and more information can be found at the TBRPC website.