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Regional Planning Council reveals proposed solutions for Tampa Bay area flooding

Posted at 10:58 PM, Jul 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-06 05:52:11-04

TAMPA, Fla — As flooding risks rise in the Tampa Bay area environmental experts and local leaders say they're learning to work with mother nature.

"In mankind's argument with nature, mankind loses 100% of the time," said St. Petersburg Public Works Director Mike Clarke.

Recently they gathered at an event held by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC) to share ideas and reveal the results of a flood study that focused on three spots in the region.

"We believe that these projects and what comes out of them and the progress from them can then be replicated in other regions throughout the community," said TBRPC Executive Director Sean Sullivan.

The study found that inland flooding west of Busch Gardens could be fixed by creating a "stormwater park" with walking trails for when things are dry and connected ponds to catch floodwaters after heavy rain.

In Oldsmar, researchers found that raising roads and homes higher off the ground, building berms and creating "floodable medians" or bioswales would help manage rising sea levels.

And lastly, near St. Pete Beach at Pass-a-Grille researchers and local leaders hope to fight higher tides and rising sea levels using a few strategies. They say they're looking into creating living shorelines made with plants and sand and a better valve system to keep streets from flooding, among other things.

"We also elevated the seawall to our new cap at five feet elevation. And the elevations of the privacy walls next to them on both sides are much lower and so it's a public education tool to say 'Here's the new elevation we should be defending to and when it's time to replace your seawall this is where you need to go,'" said Clarke.

They say in the end, the hope is that by preparing for the water we know is coming people who call this slice of paradise home will have to spend less time recovering.

"We really need to be thinking holistically and it's not just about rising tides, it's not just about hurricanes it's about mother nature and all of the water that impacts our lives," said Clarke.

Rough estimates show these proposed solutions will cost millions of dollars per location and leaders with the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council say the next steps will include solidifying final plans and finding funding for them.