By Morgan Dunn, Sustainability Professional, Arizona State University
Miami-Dade County’s Summary of the Impacts of Sea Level Rise says that sea-level rise is a significant threat to the city’s wastewater systems.
The system is at risk of frequent flooding. Miami must address this growing problem quickly and decisively. Experts say some of the damage is beyond repair. Other parts can be fixed – but at a significant cost.
One innovative solution to curbing sewage overflow is to convert Miami’s underground parking garages into sewage floodwater reservoirs. This has been done in Rotterdam, Netherlands, which like Miami, is threatened by sea-level rise.
Rotterdam built The Museumpark, which is an underground parking garage that also serves as a water reservoir that prevents sewage overflow. The Museumpark traps sewage-infested floodwater between the entrances and exits of the garage. This allows for the space to fill up — away from the cars and the streets above. When there is room in the sewer system again, the water in the reservoir is pumped back into the system.
Miami should try this approach to help improve its wastewater systems. Some luxury properties in Miami are threatened by tidal flooding and the flooding of wastewater systems. Recently, Local 10 News reported that the construction of Miami’s most expensive and deepest underground parking garage was stopped.
The garage is being built for a luxury condominium in the Brickell neighborhood, which is in front of Biscayne Bay. As reported by Local 10 News, the owners and residents of this property are concerned about how this development threatens the aesthetics of their property and their water quality.
While the construction is paused on the garage, there needs to be an evaluation of the plan compared to the resilience of a Museumpark garage.
The cost of Miami’s underground parking garages varies, but according to Construction Dive, the luxury garage in the Brickell neighborhood costs up to $25 million. If Miami changed its development to function like the Museumpark, the city might save some money. According to Intelligent City, the Museumpark cost about $8.2 million.
This Dutch solution is more cost-effective than Miami’s current plan to switch residents on septic tanks to the wastewater treatment plants, which would cost about $3 billion, according to Yale Environment360.
The Museumpark approach would also satisfy the desires of the residents of this property. This innovative garage keeps their property clean and their property values high. It would keep the water quality clean by preventing any sewage overflow from infiltrating any freshwater resources. Such a garage might prevent any sewage from overflowing onto the streets.
Overall, Miami is not doing enough to prevent damage to its wastewater systems. Developing dual-purpose parking garages to trap sewage-infested floodwater benefits Miami’s environment, residents, and economy.
Morgan Dunn is a Lawrence, Kansas native who is studying at Arizona State University. She is working towards a bachelor’s degree in Sustainability.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.