Earlier this month, Delray Beach city officials took residents and business people on the third annual environmental cruise along the Intracoastal Waterway to assess the business opportunities that the rising sea presents.
The theme of the tour was: Welcome to the rising seaconomy.
Cruise participant Joe Carden of Aquaco Farms said government and business leaders needed to make “lemonade out of lemons” when addressing king tides and rising sea levels.
Entrepreneurs from a host of industries discussed how we can prepare for the threats from our changing environment and seize economic opportunities they present.
Ana Puszkin-Chevlin, Ph.D, Sustainability Officer for Delray Beach, spearheaded the event. She is dedicated to addressing these problems and improving residents’ awareness of the challenges from the rising water.
She has developed plans to cope with the chronic flooding the city and region face in the decades ahead. She wants to focus on solutions through economic growth. Puszkin-Chevlin’s message to business people was, “come and learn.”
First up was Leonard Berry, Ph.D., of Coastal Risk Consulting, which provides homeowners, businesses and governments with detailed assessments of flood risk at the property level.
“People don’t like bad news,” Berry said.
However, being forewarned is the best way for an owner to protect his or her property. The company works with homeowners and buyers to assess flood risk through its Flood & Climate Risk Assessment: reports are available at www.floodscores.com.
Troy Beaver from HalenHardy in Pittsburgh said his company has created a Watergate barrier that temporarily blocks water during an emergency. It provides protection using the weight of the invading water itself, not sandbags. He said one of his units provides the same protection as 770 sandbags. It has been tested by the US Army Corps of Engineers, he said.
Roderick Scott from Ducky Johnson Home Elevation LLC also was on the tour. His Louisiana-based company focuses on disaster recovery and pre-disaster flood mitigation. The company elevates structures and has four locations in Florida. He said the company provides free estimates.
Barry Sokoloff from Understand, Service and Innovate stressed how important it is for businesses and home owners to have flood insurance.
Carden explained that his fish farm produces Florida Pompano. Raising fish indoors is fast, efficient and environmentally beneficial, he said. The water is so well purified that consumers end up with much healthier fish than those caught in the ocean. His 10-acre farm is in Fort Pierce.
Florida International University professor Susan Jacobson presented information on the school’s Solutions Center, which tries to raise awareness in South Florida about the challenges of climate change and strategies for assuring a sustainable and viable future. Students, faculty and the community work together on projects like: eyesontherise.org. There is also a site called willitflood.org where your enter your address to find out your elevation.
The threat from sea-level rise is growing. By 2040 the region will experience flooding 48 times a year, according to the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact.
This year’s seminars focused on approaches to dealing with our environment in a positive way. Next year the city will examine climate change through the arts during Climate & Art Weekend, Puszkin-Chevlin said.
“The Invading Sea” is a collaboration of four South Florida media organizations — the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post and WLRN Public Media.