City of Punta Gorda Adaptation Plan Update

On June 28, 2019, the City of Punta Gorda released an Adaptation Plan update to assess public infrastructure vulnerability to coastal flooding and sea-level rise. An addendum to the update report to 2009 climate adaptation plan with a living shoreline element, the updated plan is the product of the NOAA’s 2018-2019 Florida Resilient Coastlines: Resiliency Planning grant, administered by Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and in collaboration with Taylor Engineering, Inc. This report assesses information from vulnerability assessments to address public infrastructure within city limits through exposure analysis, sensitivity analysis, and focus area identification and mapping. Certain criteria were employed to identify “Adaptation Focus Areas,” which are accompanied by a variety of adaptation strategies to build resilient shorelines to protect Punta Gorda.

In 2018, Punta Gorda received the formal executed grant award from the Florida Resilient Coastlines: Resiliency Planning grant and contracted with Taylor Engineering, Inc. in February 2019 to conduct a vulnerability analysis for city-owned critical infrastructure. The vulnerability assessment was conducted to study public infrastructure within City limits, with an emphasis on coastal flooding impacts to critical facilities and historic properties. In order to evaluate the degree of exposure, 12 flood scenarios were considered resulting from a combination of 3 sea-level rise scenarios and 3 storm surge events. Following preliminary completion of the vulnerability exposure analysis, the City engaged stakeholders and citizens to provide input for next steps, employing an online survey and holding a public workshop on April 5, 2019. Using various criteria, the City identified three distinct adaptation focus areas for further investigation and narrowing of adaptation strategies: the Downtown Focus Area, the Fire Station Focus Area, and the US 41 Commercial Focus Area.

The report is divided into six sections: Executive Summary; Background; Vulnerability Assessment; Adaptation Strategies; Recommendations; and References. As pertaining to adaptation, the report details three classifications of adaptation:

  1. Accommodate: allows the land area to flood while reducing the impacts to properties without impeding natural environmental systems. Some strategies include the elevation of properties, wet floodproofing of structures, land-use planning, flood insurance, flood hazard mapping, and timely flood warnings to inform the public and encourage evacuations.
  2. Protect: prevents the land area from flooding up to a specified threshold. Examples of “protection projects” are living shorelines, seawalls, beach and dune nourishment, and stormwater management.
  3. Managed Retreat/Planned Relocation: permits the land area to flood, but reduces the impacts on citizens through removing them from coastal flood zones. Examples are government buyouts of repetitive loss properties, rolling easements, removing critical infrastructure from flood hazard zones, development controls, zoning changes, and land-use planning.

The plan outlines various adaptation methods while underscoring the importance that solutions be tailored to the local focus area or individual property. The report also includes the evaluation of focus areas based on a list of criteria, describes current adaptation strategies implemented, and then presents strategy recommendations for each focus area. For example, one type of adaptation strategy employed by the City is living shorelines in the form of mangroves and oyster beds offshore of Trabue Park and the Harborwalk. A recommended long-term solution to combat flooding in the Downtown Focus Area is the installation of wet wells (used for collecting water) in conjunction with pumps to provide excess capacity to prevent roads and properties from flooding and to store water for later irrigation.

In December 2008, the Punta Gorda City Council voted to participate in the EPA Climate Ready Estuary pilot program to evaluate climate change vulnerabilities, and develop and implement adaptation strategies while engaging stakeholders. The creation of the report involved public workshops during which the citizens of Punta Gorda identified 54 vulnerabilities within 8 major areas of climate change vulnerability for the city, including in order of priority: fish and wildlife habitat degradation, inadequate water supply, flooding, unchecked or unmanaged growth, water quality degradation, education and economy, fire, and availability of insurance. Over the past decade since the initial adoption of the climate adaptation plan, the City has undertaken actions outlined in the report to increase resilience such as collaborative public-private partnerships, policy changes, and maintenance and acquisition of greenspace. These actions have yielded incremental progress in adaptation needs, such as a 58% in sea grass acreage, the adoption of a stricter fertilizer ordinance, and buyout of properties with recurrent storm flood damage.

Publication Date: June 28, 2019

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  • Adaptation plan
  • Assessment

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