Carolyn Cox, Coordinator of the FCI, used her model for experiential courses in Florida to help design a 5-university challenge around sea level rise impacts to the island of Nantucket. Through the UF Preservation Institute Nantucket program partnership, the FCI was able to provide this opportunity for 18 students (14 from UF and 4 from U Miami) from Florida to travel to Nantucket to present their work to the community and partner universities. This collaborative model also enabled all teams to learn from each other’s approach, innovations, and areas of strength. FCI plans to use this multi-institutional model in additional Florida cities.

Students studying architecture, landscape design and urban sustainability at five East Coast universities (U Florida, U Miami, Northeastern, Yale, and Harvard) spent the past five months in a semester-long course developing innovative and adaptive designs and proposals for the island and its year-round and seasonal residents and visitors. Due to the pandemic, the students never set foot on the island. But through a robust academic curriculum, an impressive 10-week speaker series and the partnership of more than 20 local advisors, students truly came to understand the coastal, geological and cultural history of Nantucket as well as the value systems of the community. On June 2, the students presented their final designs to the community, in an event that will inspire coastal communities everywhere to imagine a resilient and adaptive future in the face of sea level rise. Visit the event website below to see designs posted soon.

Nantucket is one of hundreds of U.S. cities and towns threatened by sea level rise. By 2100, much of Nantucket’s historic downtown is projected to regularly be inundated with as much as nine feet of water. Rather than run from rising seas, the Envision Resilience Nantucket Challenge called on teams of graduate and undergraduate students to design adaptive solutions for residents and businesses to learn to live with water.

On April 26, 2021, Florida Sea Grant's Coastal Planning Program Newsletter put out a special edition, Legislative Update on Resilience & Sea-Level Rise, to help make sense of some new legislation:

Florida Legislature Acts on Resilience, Sea-Level Rise, and Flooding but not on Climate Change; Sends Mixed Signals to Local Governments about Creating More Vulnerability 

On April 8, 2021, the Florida Legislature passed “An Act Relating to Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience” (SB 1954/HB 7019) (referred to hereafter as the Resilience Act or Act). This and related bills contain a number of positive changes to Florida Statutes that will help Florida better understand the risks and costs to Florida of sea-level rise (SLR). While this and related bills that have passed this session, as described below, indicate a sea change for Florida’s Legislature on SLR, this effort would be stronger with a focus on the causes of SLR and increased flooding.

The Resilience Act clearly articulates the risks of SLR and increased flooding, whether due to more severe rain events, surge, or SLR. The Act establishes the “Resilient Florida Grant Program” in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The program can provide grants to local governments and regional resilience entities to fund resilience planning, vulnerability assessments for flooding and SLR, the development of adaptation projects, plans, and policies to address flooding and SLR threats, and projects to adapt critical assets to the effects of flooding and SLR. Grants may also be used for necessary data development and collection. The Act sets out minimum requirements for the data included in funded vulnerability assessments. Importantly, the Act requires that all such data be in specific formats and be submitted to DEP for inclusion in a statewide database.

This overall collection of local data will then assist the State accomplish the Resilience Act requirement that DEP develop a statewide flood vulnerability and SLR data set that will allow creation of a statewide flood vulnerability and SLR assessment. This includes development of statewide SLR projections (which are noted to not supersede regionally adopted projections) by the State’s Chief Science Officer. The Act details an extensive list of information to include in the statewide vulnerability assessment, such as information from previous local vulnerability assessments which meet specified information protocols. The first assessment is due for completion on July 1, 2023 whereas the statewide dataset on which it is based is due July 1, 2022.

The Act requires DEP to develop a yearly Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan on a 3-year planning horizon. This plan consists of ranked projects that address flooding and SLR in coastal or inland communities and is submitted to the Governor and Legislature. The Act details the criteria and ranking percentages to be used by DEP in ranking the projects submitted by municipalities, counties, or regional resilience entities.

The Act establishes the Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science. The Hub is to coordinate and support applied research and innovation and to address flooding and SLR challenges in Florida. The Florida Flood Hub and USF serve as the lead institution for engaging other academic and research institutions, private partners, and financial sponsors on related efforts. Related bill SB 2514 authorizes DEP to provide funding to USF for operational and administrative costs for the Flood Hub.

Section 3 of the Act adds “inland and coastal flood control” to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research’s required annual assessment of Florida’s water resources and conservation lands.

The Resilience Act forms part of a larger initiative by the 2021 Legislature in Florida to address flooding and SLR. For example, the focus on specifying the types and formats of data to be collected and used and submitted to DEP for use at the state level is part of a larger effort by the State of Florida to capture more granular, local-level data on risk and vulnerabilities and the costs to address them. For example, HB 53 contributes to this, albeit on a shorter timescale, with wastewater and stormwater. HB 53 would require counties, municipalities, and special districts to develop detailed analyses and plans for their wastewater and stormwater facilities over the next 20 years. These analyses and their data sets are then compiled by the relevant counties and supplied to the State Office of Economic and Demographic Research. Additionally, HB 53 would have this information integrated into the new statewide assessment that is part of SB 1954.

Seeing Florida’s Legislature getting serious to address the impacts of flooding and SLR is good news. But is this sufficient?

First, and central to the entire conversation, neither SB 1954 nor any related bills directly address climate change (CC) as the driver for SLR and the increased intensity rain events causing increased inland and coastal flooding. This represents a failure to address the root causes of SLR and increased flooding. This is akin to a homeowner with a roof leak collecting data on how much water is leaking in, predicting where water might leak next, and estimating how many buckets and of what size are needed in the future. But doing all this without directly addressing the leaking roof. While we have already “baked in” some sea-level rise into our future, we still must reduce greenhouse gases to minimize the increasing rate of SLR and the total amount of SLR we cause by emitting greenhouse gases.

Second, legislative work on SLR so far focuses on infrastructure fixes to SLR and increased flooding. This may be a tenable approach in the short term, but over medium- and long-term time horizons, this will not be feasible for all communities. As Monroe County (a.k.a. the Florida Keys) has discovered with extensive data gathering and analysis in its efforts to understand the vulnerability of its roads: raising all the roads to keep them as dry as people are accustomed to will be too expensive for the County to maintain over the long-term. Similar realities will arise in other low-lying places for existing infrastructure beyond just roads. Fortifying infrastructure to address SLR and precipitation-driven increases in flooding buys us time, but we still need longer-term strategies and options. For example, when do we consider the merits of hardening infrastructure now versus investing those funds in planning for alternative solutions at the community level? Questions such as this admit of no easy answers, but sooner or later we will have to answer such difficult questions. The sooner we begin to consider them, the more options we will have and at costs we are more likely to be able to bear.

Third, the Resilience Act is linked financially to SB 2521 and SB 2514, both of which have now passed the Legislature. SB 2521 reduces the documentary tax stamp moneys that flow to the State Housing Trust Fund. Florida already has severe housing affordability problems. SLR and flooding exacerbate these challenges by driving gentrification in higher elevation areas in urban areas, with the Miami area often referenced as an example. Thus, even as SLR and increased flooding contribute to affordable housing problems, SB 2521 redirect monies from the State Housing Trust Fund to the “Resilient Florida Trust Fund” created by SB 2514 that will pay for the Resilience Act. Instead of directly addressing affordable housing, these monies will now be used to fund the new programs in SB 1954, such as the Resilient Florida Grant Program, the Statewide Flooding and Sea-Level Rise Resilience Plan, providing grants to regional resilience coalitions, and for administrative and operational costs of the Florida Flood Hub.

Fourth, even as the Legislature focuses on data gathering and funding projects to address SLR and increased flooding, the Legislature is sending mixed signals to local governments. To understand these mixed signals, a little background: those working in the fields of SLR and flooding understand three basic things: 1) Most of the risk from SLR and flooding comes from how and where we choose to develop (to paraphrase a famous quote: Floods are acts of God; flood losses are largely acts of people); 2) while individuals suffer greatly when disasters strike vulnerable areas, the public also pays the bill through massive federal spending to address the foreseeable damage that occurs due to our development decisions in hazardous areas (e.g. hundreds of billions of dollars in federal supplemental spending over the last years for disasters and forgiveness of tens of billions of dollars of debt of the National Flood Insurance Program); and 3) the most powerful tools local governments have to avoid creating more vulnerabilities to hazards such as SLR and flooding include planning, zoning, and development restrictions/conditions.

Yet even as these three points are clear, moving rapidly through the legislative process is SB 1876, an Act Relating to Relief from Burdens on Real Property Rights. This bill proposes significant changes to the Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act that would decrease the willingness and ability of local governments to make changes that prevent creation of more vulnerability (and the related public costs) in areas currently at risk of chronic flooding or that that will become so due to SLR and climate change. For example, SB 1876 would make it possible for property owners who have never applied for a permit, had any development plans, or maybe never even contemplated further development, to sue a local government for “damages” caused by the mere adoption of new rules or regulations on property. This could lead to attorneys watching for new local government and directing advertising to owners of “affected” properties. Since the bill also makes it easier for a prevailing property owner in a lawsuit to recover attorney’s fees (and for a longer time period) than for a prevailing defendant government, this bill would encourage more lawsuits that would decrease the willingness and ability of local governments—or the State—to slow or stop the creation of additional vulnerability to SLR and increased, climate-change-driven flooding. A number of other changes in the bill also place greater burdens and risks or offer less protections to government entities that might utilize planning, zoning, and development restrictions to prevent creation of more vulnerability to current and future risks. Thus, the proposed changes to the Bert Harris Act discourage any new rules or regulations through increased legal and financial risks to local governments of doing so. In turn, this means that property owners and developers will have more “rights” to create more of the very vulnerabilities that the Legislature is spending so much money to address in the Resilience Act.

In the past, Florida was a leader on land use planning and climate change mitigation through statewide policies focused on energy, conservation, and clean, renewable power. But most of those state laws have been repealed. Now, the Legislature has acted on some of the key impacts of climate change—increased flooding, higher storm surge, and SLR—but not the root causes of these impacts, all while advancing changes that make it more difficult for state or local government to avoid the private creation of additional vulnerability. The impacts of increasing vulnerability will, in large part, be borne by citizens and taxpayers at the local, state, and national levels.

A record 137 participants joined a webinar on 2020 Hurricane Season Impacts on Water Management in Florida hosted by the Florida Water & Climate Alliance (FloridaWCA) and the UF Water Institute on April 7, 2021. It was the FloridaWCA’s 25th webinar/workshop since it was founded in 2010. Participants came from varied backgrounds and agencies including water utilities, Water Management Districts, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, universities and consulting firms.

The webinar featured a panel session to discuss the 2020 hurricane season, impacts to utilities and water management districts, and the challenges associated with disaster and crisis communication in Florida related to climate change. Moderated by Dr. Vasu Misra (Florida State University) the session featured presentations by Dr. Tirusew Asefa (Tampa Bay Water), Dr. Michael Kozar (Risk Management Solutions), Dr. Angie Lindsey (University of Florida), and Dr. Carolina Maran (South Florida Water Management District). Additional webinar presentations featured two different projects that have the goal of co-producing climate science with stakeholders: Dr. Esther Mullens (University of Florida) presented on a national project to predict rainfall extremes at subseasonal to seasonal periods (PRES2iP); and Dr. Tracy Irani (University of Florida) presented on a Florida-specific project to improve seasonal forecasts for use in water utility decision making by integrating NASA earth systems data.

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For Immediate Release: April 16, 2021

Contact: Governor’s Press Office, (850) 717-9282, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lakeland, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that more than $148 million has been awarded to communities through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s (DEO) Rebuild Florida Mitigation General Infrastructure Program. The program, administered by DEO, allows local governments to develop large-scale infrastructure projects to make communities more resilient to future disasters.

“My administration remains committed to providing the resources necessary for Florida communities to build back stronger and be more resilient to future storms,” said Governor DeSantis. “This transformational mitigation funding will go a long way in helping Florida’s communities invest in their futures through critical infrastructure improvements.”

“This Lake Bonnet project is a perfect example of government working well,” Representative Scott Franklin said. “It is a model for what success looks like in a public, private partnership that will help a needed community, clean up a lake ecosystem and provide a new park that the entire Lakeland community can enjoy. It is a shining example of government and the private sector at all levels, working together on behalf of our community. I applaud Governor DeSantis for his support of this project and thank everyone at every level who has supported the vision for this project and contributed to this momentous occasion.”

The funds are allocated to the state through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant – Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) program formed in response to the 2016 to 2017 presidentially declared disasters.

“Under Governor DeSantis’ strong leadership, our state continues to provide investments to ensure the resiliency of Florida communities,” said DEO Executive Director Dane Eagle. “The Rebuild Florida Mitigation General Infrastructure Program provides storm-impacted communities the opportunity to complete large, high-impact infrastructure projects that will pay dividends for future generations.”

DEO is awarding the following communities funding through the Rebuild Florida Mitigation General Infrastructure Program:

  • Broward County ($6,250,000) – to construct an interconnect between the Broward County Reuse Facility and the City of Pompano Beach's OASIS Reuse facility.
  • City of Arcadia ($4,823,579) – to widen a stormwater tributary to provide additional storage during storm events to better control flood volume.
  • City of Avon Park ($670,623) – to improve the existing potable water system through replacement of asbestos pipes with PVC piping, adding additional bore to improve water pressure, and to install an upgraded chlorine system.
  • City of Doral ($1,000,000) - to reduce the frequency and severity of stormwater flooding by providing a positive-gravity drainage outfall discharging into the NW 58th Street canal.
  • City of Fort Lauderdale ($10,500,000) – to replace aging and undersized stormwater infrastructure with new infrastructure systems that help with neighborhood flooding issues and provide better water quality treatment prior to releasing into the intracoastal waterway.
  • City of Key West ($3,099,159) – to install tide valves at 40 stormwater outfall points of discharge to address saltwater flooding of roadways, sidewalks, and low-lying properties caused by high tides.
  • City of Key West ($6,336,165) – to design and construct a pump-assist injection well to address flooding in a low-lying area that collects significant runoff.
  • City of Lakeland ($42,986,390) – to establish a multi-component project in partnership with Bonnet Springs Park which focuses on increasing flood storage capacity to the drainage basin by improving the stormwater infrastructure and watershed quality.
  • City of Lauderhill ($3,125,215) – to complete water and sewer line improvement projects.
  • City of Miami ($13,497,843) – to retrofit portions of existing seawall, construct new sea wall sections, and other coastal resiliency improvements.
  • City of Miami ($1,216,963) – to implement roadway resiliency improvements to NW 17th Street, between NW 27th Avenue and NW 32nd Avenue. Improvements include the installation of a drainage system, exfiltration trench, storm inlets, accessibility ramps, and swales.
  • City of North Miami Beach ($6,000,000) – to implement system-wide improvements to the sewer collection system that protects public health and natural water resources.
  • City of North Miami Beach ($11,700,000) - to enhance the water transmission and distribution system to improve water quality, fire flow capacity, reliability, and resiliency.
  • City of Orlando ($2,850,000) – to develop six resiliency hubs that will provide services to low- and moderate-income communities in the recovery phase of a disaster.
  • City of Sebring ($2,605,428) – to complete fire protection resiliency, water quality, and water conservation infrastructure improvements.
  • City of Sebring ($3,515,580) – to harden facilities that are part of the cities sanitary sewer collection system.
  • City of West Palm Beach ($16,764,610) – to build resilient seawalls, improve storm water quality, and develop living shorelines, pedestrian hardscaping, and native landscaping.
  • DeSoto County ($3,757,012) – to replace decaying drainage system infrastructure to significantly increase service life and reduce the possibility of flooding.
  • DeSoto County ($3,273,575) – to repair a bridge used as an evacuation route during storms.
  • Osceola County ($4,689,320) – to modify and adapt existing drainage elements to substantially reduce repetitive flooding.

With a total allocation of $475,000,000, the Rebuild Florida Mitigation General Infrastructure Program will provide two additional rounds of funding in the future to communities designated by HUD or the state as Most Impacted and Distressed (MID) by Hurricanes Hermine, Matthew, and Irma.

The Department is the governor-designated state authority responsible for administering all U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) long-term recovery funds awarded to the state. Rebuild Florida uses federal funding for Florida’s long-term recovery efforts from the devastating impacts of natural disasters. For more information, visit

A team of scientists from the University of Florida hopes to address the invasive species problem by predicting how invasive species will move and migrate over the next 50 years as climate change, urbanization and other factors reshape the landscape.

Brett Scheffers, assistant professor at UF and the project’s principal investigator, said most of Florida’s invasive species are located in South Florida — but climate change and other trends could push these animals north.

||Full story from WUFT|