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Miami-Dade commissioners: We want county plans to consider sea-level rise


Is there a sea change of opinion among Miami-Dade County commissioners over the threat of climate change?

A broad discussion on the county's dilapidated water and sewer pipes began Tuesday with Commission Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa exhorting staff to consider rising sea levels "in every detail" of the future development of infrastructure.

"We have seen what is happening in Miami-Dade County. We see that the state of Florida is placed on the map as one state that is in incredible danger because of the changes in climate and in weather," she said.

If planners don't take into account the threat as new projects get under way, she said, "We will be misspending that money, because we will have to come back and we will have to fix the infrastructure."

This is the same commission being sued by Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, a clean-water advocacy group, over a federally mandated plan to spend $1.6 billion in sewer repairs because the advocates say the plan doesn't take into account rising sea levels.

Sosa wasn't the only one apparently in agreement that the county must do more.

Commissioner Juan C. Zapata referred to a sewage treatment plant on Virginia Key that environmentalists say could be the first to go under water. "How do we start to plan and telegraph to folks that we are conscious of that and we do want to make some changes?" he said.

Then Vice-Chairwoman Lynda Bell chimed in: "While we're fixing our infrastructure, if we don't take that into account now -- it's foolish."