Sea Level Rise estimates on the Hillsborough River

August 2017 – The Peril of Flood Act of 2015 created new requirements for local governments to address flooding, including flooding from sea level rise. The Hillsborough River Interlocal Planning Board and its Technical Advisory Council received a presentation on the report’s assessment of the Hillsborough River’s vulnerability to sea level rise at their May regular meeting.

In 2015, the Tampa Bay Climate Science Advisory Panel completed their recommended sea level rise projections for our area. Planning Commission and City of Tampa staff, with the assistance of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, worked closely to complete a vulnerability assessment based on these projections for the City of Tampa, including the Hillsborough River. The horizon for this vulnerability assessment is the year 2040.  Some of the more notable findings in the city-wide assessment are:

  • At least 80% of affected properties are publicly owned
  • Tampa General Hospital’s property and several parks are at risk
  • Critical facilities are not located within at-risk areas; however, the area surrounding the McKay Bay Refuse-To-Energy Facility should be monitored
  • Segments of 31 local roads are at-risk
  • Several stormwater basins and some stormwater facilities are within the at-risk areas

While much of the potential impact to the Hillsborough River through 2040 is restricted to undeveloped yards and public parks, it was noted that under the worst-case scenario for sea level rise, the river is expected to be among the first areas of the City to experience impacts to structures.

These requirements were incorporated in section 163.3178(2)(f) of Florida Statutes. The City of Tampa is the first local government in Hillsborough County to address these requirements by completing a vulnerability assessment to determine specifically how they should comply. Pursuant to this vulnerability assessment, Planning Commission and City of Tampa staff worked together to develop new comprehensive plan policies to bring the City of Tampa into compliance with this new state law.

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