US Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville District Website

Florida Keys Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study


Sunny Isles Beach

This study's purpose is to address critical-infrastructure and evacuation-route protection, along with structural-damage reduction, in response to coastal storm risks and effects and associated impacts such as sea-level rise, storm surge, and extreme wind and tidal effects. The study's three-year timeline started in October 2018 and will terminate with a Chief’s Report in September 2021.

Supplemental funding allows the Corps of Engineers to complete the feasibility study, which is evaluating measures for coastal storm risk management, sea-level rise and chronic flooding issues for Monroe County.

Federal funding for this study is $3 million.

 

Florida Keys Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study

Frequently Asked Questions

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The study investigates solutions to reduce risks within the Florida Keys from future coastal storm events, especially from storm surge, to reduce economic damage and the risk to life and safety.

The study is planned for completion within three years (October 2018 to September 2021) and $3 million. The study scope includes analysis to identify which nonstructural measures, structural measures, and/or natural and nature-based features would be effective and cost efficient in reducing the impacts of future coastal storms throughout the entire Florida Keys. The study primarily focuses on measures that would reduce damage to vulnerable development and infrastructure in the kKeys, including residential and nonresidential buildings, critical infrastructure and U.S. Route 1 (Overseas Highway).

This study will result in the recommendation of a project that will be authorized for construction. The Florida Keys and its five municipalities, with a total of about 158,000 people, lie in a relatively low-lying and flat coastal area. The region is well known for its risk of coastal flooding from hurricanes and tropical storms. Sea-level rise has increased these risks and will continue to do so in the future. Without plans to reduce coastal storm risk and increase resiliency, threats to life, property and the economy will continue to increase. This study will identify and evaluate coastal storm risk management measures for Florida Keys residents, industries and businesses.

Currently estimated at a construction cost of $5.5 billion, the Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP) includes six revetments along U.S. Route 1, nonstructural measures (which include residential elevations and acquisition, and floodproofing of commercial structures), and floodproofing of critical infrastructure within the entire Florida Keys. If the project is authorized and funds are appropriated by Congress as a study result, the project cost will be shared by the federal government, which would provide 65% of the funding, and a nonfederal sponsor that would provide the remaining 35%. The nonfederal sponsor may utilize local agreements with other nonfederal entities to secure the 35% nonfederal funds needed for project construction. The nonfederal sponsor assumes responsibility of the project once it has been completed and will be responsible for any future required operation and maintenance.

The draft report is available above in the "Study Documents" section of this webpage.

The public is encouraged to provide feedback on the Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement that has been made available on this website by sending an email to floridakeysCSRM@usace.army.mil. If written correspondence is required, comments can be submitted to our district office (Attn: Environmental Analysis Section, Norfolk District, 803 Front St., Norfolk, Virginia 23510). For any accessibility issues that prevent written comments, please call 757-201-7728. The 45-day public comment period ends on Aug. 10, 2020.

Following a series of hurricanes and severe storms, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) received $3 million in Federal Emergency Supplemental Funding to study the impact and potential solutions of coastal storm events in the Florida Keys. Even though the study is 100% federally funded, Monroe County is the nonfederal sponsor. The USACE study team has worked with the county throughout the study to incorporate its existing information and identification of problems and opportunities that would reduce coastal storm risk in the Florida Keys. The project ultimately recommended for implementation at study completion would be cost shared between the federal government and nonfederal sponsor. The nonfederal sponsor may utilize local agreements with other nonfederal entities to secure the portion of nonfederal funds needed for project construction, which will be cost shared 65% federal and 35% nonfederal. Once the study has been completed, the Preconstruction Engineering and Design (PED) Phase can begin once funded by Congress, which is estimated to be 2022 at the earliest.

Once the study is complete in September 2021, the recommended plan from the final Feasibility Report will be transmitted to Congress for authorization. It is currently estimated that the project would be authorized in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2024. Once authorized, Congress can appropriate funds for project implementation, which could occur in late 2024 or early 2025. If authorization and appropriation of funds occur by 2025, it is estimated the project could be completed by 2030.

The Tentatively Selected Plan includes acquisition as a nonstructural measure. Current USACE policy requires mandatory participation in acquisition, which means it may be implemented by the use of eminent domain as necessary, if it is included in the recommended plan. The project’s nonfederal sponsor must have the ability to use eminent domain if required to implement acquisition. Further analysis will occur prior to the final report on the structures to be included in the nonstructural plan for acquisition. Negotiation is required to acquire real estate. Fair-market value as established by a real estate appraisal is the basis for the initial offers to property owners. If negotiation fails, eminent domain is an option that can be utilized to acquire homes, per USACE policy. This does not replace the reasonable efforts to negotiate a purchase before initiating an eminent domain action.

However, please note that the study’s nonfederal sponsor, Monroe County, does not support mandatory acquisition for this project and has submitted a request to USACE to waive the mandatory policy for acquisition and make participation in the measure voluntary. If the waiver request is approved, acquisition would occur on a voluntary basis only. If the waiver is not approved, Monroe County will request a Locally Preferred Plan (LPP) to remove acquisition from the recommended plan. The plan will not move forward with mandatory acquisition if the waiver is not granted.

The study is only about halfway complete and the plan identified in the draft report is a tentatively selected plan. This means that while the basic components of the plan will likely remain the same between now and the plan that is ultimately recommended for construction at the end of the study, the number and location of structures recommended for each nonstructural measure will change as additional analysis is used to refine the tentatively selected plan. Further analysis and adjustments will also occur during future phases such as Pre-Construction Engineering and Design (PED) and Construction. Because the structures that are currently included in the plan may not be included in the final plan that is recommended at the end of the study, specific property information is not released at this point in the study.

Optimization is the next step in the study process and involves further refinement of the Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP). Monroe County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — with input from stakeholders and the public — will complete additional analyses and use the results to refine the TSP into a more final plan. The optimization stage is June 2020 to March 2021.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to take a hard look at how their actions affect the human and natural environment. To ensure NEPA compliance, the draft feasibility report includes an integrated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Compliance with other applicable federal environmental laws and statues is also addressed in the draft report. Interagency coordination is ongoing for this study.

The South Atlantic Coastal Study (SACS) is a comprehensive study concurrently evaluating coastal storm risk and establishing general guidelines for risk-reduction actions on a regional scale. The findings of the Florida Keys CSRM study, which delivers higher-resolution measures with a recommended plan for construction, have been coordinated with the SACS study team.

The study’s authorized purpose is coastal storm risk management. If green infrastructure can be incorporated to provide a significant and measureable reduction in coastal-risk drivers such as storm surge, wave energy and erosion, then it can be included in the study as a Natural and Nature-Based Feature, or NNBF. Although the value of green infrastructure (NNBF) is recognized and acknowledged, it is often difficult to quantify the benefits of NNBFs in the context of reduced economic impacts such as damage to infrastructure. The project ultimately recommended at the completion of this Coastal Storm Risk Management study must have a benefit-to-cost ratio (BCR) of 1.0 or greater in order to be authorized into law and implemented. NNBF features can only be included in the recommended plan if the reduction in economic impacts they provide are greater than the cost to implement them. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to achieve a positive BCR for NNBF within the framework for economic evaluation used in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers planning process. NNBFs such as planting mangroves were removed from Florida Keys CSRM Study consideration in order to eliminate impacts to the protected hard-bottom habitat around the Florida Keys and because no appropriate locations for placing other NNBFs where they would reduce storm effects and not impact existing environmental resources could be identified.

Structural measures such as storm-surge barriers and floodwalls are only effective if high ground exists for the structure to tie into. Otherwise, storm surge will wrap around the structure and still flood the area behind it. There is not sufficient high ground in an area like the Florida Keys, a low-lying chain of islands, for large-scale storm-surge barriers or floodwalls to be effective. These structures also do not perform effectively when placed on top of the porous limestone geology present throughout the Keys. The Florida Keys also serve as one of the country’s most popular tourism destinations due to the rich environmental resources in the area, including the world’s third-largest coral reef and 17 national and state parks. Tourism resulting from rich environmental resources is a major part of the area’s economy and would be negatively impacted by the construction of major structural measures such as storm-surge barriers and floodwalls.

We cannot predict the project’s impact on future property values. Property values may be affected by project implementation, but there are too many factors  to make a determination during this study. It is important to remember that property values will be impacted by future risk from coastal storm-based flooding, and this project strives to reduce risk from future coastal storms.

It is possible FEMA flood insurance rates could be reduced for some structures that are elevated or floodproofed; however, that is not this study’s primary goal and the final impact will be determined by FEMA. This study will not affect Flood Insurance Rate Maps as they are issued by FEMA.

The feasibility study includes 10% design (a conceptual level of design) and further details will be developed if the project enters the Preconstruction Engineering and Design (PED) Phase. Two public meetings have been held with open comment periods since study initiation in the fall of 2018. The public is invited to participate in a virtual online public meeting to learn more about the study and findings and ask questions. Two identical virtual meetings will be held July 8 from 1-3 p.m. and July 13, 2020, from 5-7 p.m. Virtual office hours will be held on July 9from 1-2 p.m. and July 14, 2020, from 5-6 p.m. Comments may be provided in writing to FloridaKeysCSRM@usace.army.mil or by mail to: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ATTN: Environmental Analysis Section, Norfolk District, 803 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510. The public comment period begins June 26, 2020, and ends Aug. 10, 2020.

The project will only be implemented if an eligible cost-sharing nonfederal sponsor participates in project implementation.

The project will only be implemented if an eligible cost-sharing nonfederal sponsor participates in project implementation.

The feasibility study includes 10% design (conceptual level design) and further details will be developed if the project enters the Preconstruction Engineering and Design (PED) Phase. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been actively working with Monroe County, the study’s nonfederal sponsor, which serves as liaison to the five municipalities within the Florida Keys. In addition, the USACE study team conducted webinars for local government staff and also provided a briefing on the tentatively selected plan (TSP) at city council meetings for all five municipalities. The project will only be implemented if an eligible cost-sharing nonfederal sponsor participates in project implementation. The nonfederal sponsor must have the capability to enter into a cost-share agreement with the federal government and be able to acquire the real estate necessary for the project.

During Preconstruction Engineering and Design (PED), if any historic homes identified in the recommended plan are determined not eligible for evaluation due to structural constraints, then they will not be elevated. Recommendations to historic structures will ensure they remain classified as historic. Neighborhood cohesiveness will be considered during the feasibility study’s next phase and documented in the final report. No historic properties are currently recommended for acquisition.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers only has the authority to address risk caused by coastal storm events in this study, not the more broad effects of sea-level rise that may occur on a more frequent basis, such as “sunny day flooding” and “king tides.” However, sea-level rise is included in evaluation of the impacts expected from future coastal storms. It is also important to note that many project features, such as home elevation, will also be effective in mitigating future sea-level rise impacts.

Presentations & posters

2020 Virtual Public Meeting Presentation
2020 Virtual Public Meeting Presentation
(Virtual) Public Meeting Storyboards
 

Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers received disaster funds provided in Public Law 115-123, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. The act provides nearly $17.4 billion to the Corps for disaster recovery. Jacksonville District received $3.35 billion for long-term recovery investments in its area of responsibility, which includes Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This funding goes toward 13 studies and 22 projects that will reduce risk to communities damaged by storm events. So far, the total federal funding allocation for Jacksonville District recovery efforts exceeds $4 billion.

Announcements

Virtual sessions set following release of CSRM draft report

NORFOLK, Va. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Monroe County, its nonfederal sponsor, have released the Florida Keys Coastal Storm Risk Management Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement.

The public is invited to learn more about the study and its findings during a series of online virtual sessions. USACE staff will be available to answer questions:

• July 8, public meeting, 1-3 p.m.
• July 9, office hours, 1-2 p.m.
• July 13, public meeting, 5-7 p.m.
• July 14, office hours, 5-6 p.m.

The public meetings will feature a formal presentation, followed by an opportunity to ask questions.

Community members have until Aug. 10 to provide feedback on the draft plan. Discussion during any virtual session will not be documented as public comments. Formal submission steps are outlined below.

The Florida Keys Coastal Storm Risk Management Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement is available on this webpage under "Study documents."

The Draft IFR and EIS, prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, identifies coastal storm flood risks to residents, industries and businesses; develops risk-management measures, and evaluates their impacts to public and natural environments.

To participate in the virtual public meetings or office hours, log in at https://usace.webex.com/meet/alicia.m.logalbo and enter your name and email address. For the presentation’s audio portion, call 877-336-1829 – access code: 9556794, security code: 1234. A backup line can be reached at 888-363-4749 (access code: 5073286, security code: 1234).

To submit comments on the Florida Keys Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study, email FloridaKeysCSRM@usace.army.mil or send by regular mail to: Ms. Kathy Perdue, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, 803 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510. The deadline is Aug. 10.

For more information about the study, contact Kathy Perdue of USACE Norfolk District at 757-201-7218.