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Representative Bartleman and Senator Rodriguez File Legislation to Expedite Upgrades to South Florida’s Aging Flood Control System

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Representative Robin Bartleman (D-Weston) and Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez (R) filed HB 513/SB 1326 – Comprehensive Review Study of the Central and Southern Florida Project in advance of the 2022 legislative session.

The Central and Southern Florida (C&SF) Project consists of nearly 2,600 miles of canals, 1,000 miles of levees, 1,300 water control structures, and over 60 pump stations that provide flood protection for the South Florida region. Recently, the C&SF Project has been challenged by sea level rise and more intense rainfall, and parts of the system require immediate upgrades to protect the communities in South Florida from flooding. In 2009, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) determined that 18 flood control structures of the C&SF Project were within six inches of design failure.

Under current projections, an anticipated eight inches of sea level rise will impede storm water discharges needed to protect inland areas of South Florida before 2030.

Designed more than 70 years ago to deliver flood protection to the South Florida region, the C&SF Project now protects over 11 million residents and over $359 billion in GDP in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties alone. HB 513/ SB 1326 asks the state to determine the infrastructure needs of the C&SF Project and directs the SFWMD to prepare and submit a consolidated annual project status report to create a mechanism for the state to monitor flood mitigation projects and develop a system of accountability.

“South Florida has always been my home,” said Representative Bartleman, “and we must take decisive action to protect our community for the generations to come. The successful operation of our flood control system is critical to daily life in South Florida and even today the system is being challenged. We must adapt to rising sea levels and enhance flood protection to protect our 11 million residents and one-third of Florida’s economy by retrofitting and retooling our water management infrastructure. This legislation is a necessary component of Florida’s historic investments in flood
resilience.”

“South Florida’s flood control system is the foundation of flood protection for our entire community.” says prime cosponsor, Representative Busatta Cabrera (R-Coral Gables). “We must ensure that updates to the system are understood and prioritized to preserve the economic vitality of the region. This bill does just that, and together, we can protect our future and ensure that Florida is always ready.”

Under current law, the SFWMD is required to annually publish, by September 1, a Sea Level Rise and Flood Resilience Plan. HB 513/ SB 1326 directs the SFWMD to consolidate the portions of the Plan related to the C&SF Resiliency Study and submit the document to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR), the Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), the Governor, the Senate President, and Speaker of the House by October 1, annually. The success of the C&SF System is dependent on continued financial and policy investments in flooding and
sea level rise by the Florida Legislature.

“Sea level rise is a critical issue facing South Florida’s population and economy. Therefore, I am proud to sponsor SB 1326. It will initiate a report that will keep Florida’s government informed of the status of our flood control projects and how we should move forward to continue protecting the region against sea level rise and flooding.” said Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez (R).

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