A 20-Foot-Tall Wall to Protect Miami from the Sea?

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in a first draft of a study to protect Miami from storm surge damage, is proposing a six-mile-long wall that will run through Biscayne Bay and cost $6 billion.

But the suggestion of a massive sea wall up to 20 feet high cutting across the beautiful bay and obstructing views is making Miamians uneasy.

The problem is not climate change denialism. Miami residents know that hurricanes are increasing in frequency and intensity, flood insurance is becoming more unaffordable, and the weather is getting hotter. The problem is that none of the solutions to address these issues are cheap, easy or pretty.

South Florida, which is flat and low-lying is not just prone to storm surge, but the ocean can swell up through its porous limestone ground. On sunny days, streets regularly fill with water and saltwater is threatening to spoil underground aquifers, and ruin old sewer pipes and aging septic tanks.

Something needs to be done but getting the various parties to agree on a solution will not be easy. Already, local officials and business leaders are proposing alternatives to a 20-foot wall in the bay, which many feel will ruin real estate values.

A New York Times article looks at the many challenges South Florida faces as the ocean encroaches on the densely populated area.



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