Miami Beach is embarking on a comprehensive plan to combat flooding from rising sea levels by raising its roads and seawalls. 

Miami Beach is experiencing the physical, economic, and social consequences of rising seas. Taking matters into its own hands, the city has begun implementing a sea-level rise adaptation program. It includes converting the city’s stormwater system from a gravity-based system to a pump-based system, raising seawalls and roads up by one meter, and restoring natural systems such as the shorelines to reduce flood risk. The city is already reaping the benefits of the program, which began in 2014, with upgraded neighborhoods experiencing substantial reductions in flood events. Roads previously impassable during high tides no longer experience tidal flooding.

Restoring shorelines with endemic plants to reduce storm surges is regarded as a non-conventional sea-level rise adaptation strategy, and currently requires extensive permitting processes. Miami Beach has pushed regulatory agencies to encourage these more natural adaptations to climate change.

366 million liters of water can be pumped away from streets in 24 hours

The challenge

The coastal city of Miami Beach has low-lying topography and 100 km of shoreline, making it vulnerable to storm and tidal flooding. These events are exacerbated by climate change and sea-level rise, and the city is adapting by modifying its public infrastructure to better manage flood waters and protect the community.


Economic The program has reduced flood insurance premiums for private properties by reducing the number of flood events. Flood damage and disruption to local businesses have also been reduced.

Environmental Miami Beach installed water treatment plants that capture pollutants that were previously washed directly into the city’s waterways. The plants remove approximately 70 tons of debris per month.

Social The city created funding sources to minimize the financial burden of flood events on the low-income families in Miami Beach.

About Miami Beach

Miami Beach is a coastal resort city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. It was incorporated on March 26, 1915. The municipality is located on natural and man-made barrier islands between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay, the latter of which separates the Beach from Miami.

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