By Qiaowen Chen
My hometown of Ningbo sits near the East China Sea. I love taking strolls at the port, listening to the whistle of the ships and the sound of waves — that’s the co-existence of industrialization and nature.
However, with global warming’s pace, if the sea level rises by one meter, half of my city will be underwater, disturbing the lives of more than 9 million.
I currently live in Florida, where I feel even more connected to the sea. Recent news reminds me of what people often forget when a city floods — the sewage system underneath the surface of land.
The infrastructure here has been used for decades and was not originally designed to handle more intense rainfall events brought by climate change and the higher sewage levels from population growth.
We cannot protect ourselves without addressing these issues:
1) Coastal communities need updated or upgraded sewer systems that are regularly maintained. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection could launch scientific investigations about a more sustainable way to upgrade and maintain the pipelines in terms of material and pathway design.
2) A funding solution and a specific plan need to be solidified and implemented. County waterway management department officers should actively reach out for investments. They should also look into federal programming such as the Clean Water State Revolving Program to develop detailed solutions for dealing with post-spill situations and infrastructure upgrades.
Qiaowen Chen is an undergraduate at the University of Florida. This piece was written for Audubon Florida’s Write for Climate program.