Report: Florida needs at least $76 billion to fight sea level rise

By: Charles Roop | WCTV Pinpoint Weather
June 20, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — Rising sea levels will likely cost Florida more money than any other state and the high cost includes a few coastal counties in the Big Bend, according to a report.

Originally reported by the Tampa Bay Times, a report by The Center for Climate Integrity says that Florida could spend nearly $76 billion by 2040 to for building over 9,000 miles of sea wall to mitigate anticipated sea level rise. The next state on the list is Louisiana with a calculated price tag of $38 billion to build over 6,000 miles of sea wall.

The cost would increase for The Sunshine State by 2100 to $109 billion, according to the report.

Locally, there are two Big Bend coastal counties listed on the report that may have significant costs (over $1 billion) to mitigate projected sea level rise. Taylor County was ranked 18th with nearly $4 billion in funds to fortify the coast, while Franklin County was 22nd with a price tag nearly $200 million smaller than Taylor County. Wakulla County was 68th, with a price tag of $2.1 billion.

St. George Island was on the list of communities with over $500,000 in per-capita costs for mitigating rising water. The island ranked 25th with a cost of $912,000, according to the study.

“These cost estimates represent a small fraction of total costs associated with protecting our coastal communities against sea-level rise,” the authors wrote in the study. “First, this study only considers relatively conservative estimates of future sea-level rise. Second, it does not account for many line items that must be included in city resilience plans.”

The authors determined the dollar amounts by looking at projected sea level increase based on conservative scenarios of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions (known as RCP2.6 and RCP4.5, meaning that greenhouse gas emissions are curbed sooner with the lower numbers). They then used sea-level projections based on these lower-to-mid-range scenarios, as well as determining public infrastructure (e.g. schools, hospitals, government buildings, airports, roads, etc.), and developing a series of logic tests to determine where sea walls would have to be installed.

Projections from NOAA show the sea level rising by almost a foot in Apalachicola by 2040 under an intermediate scenario with some parts of St. James Island, St. George Island, and Panacea underwater.

The study can be found by clicking here.