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WPTV West Palm Beach 5

Group visualizes potential effects of climate change in Delray Beach

Initiative aims to motivate proactive approach

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – One south Florida group is visualizing climate change. Blue lines dot three Delray Beach neighborhoods showing where rising water levels could reach.

Dave Frohman knew there was a risk moving next to the Intracoastal Waterway.  Superstorm Sandy sent water over the seawall and up through the ground into his house.

“It just started rolling and it gets aggressive,” Frohman remembered.

He avoided major damage then, but isn’t out of the woods. Experts say water levels are rising.

Three blue lines (one in the Historic Marina District, one on the barrier island, and one in the Frog Alley neighborhood, further inland) show where the extra water could end up.

Whether it’s from storm surge, higher sea levels, or the water table rising, organizers say it’s coming.

“I think the dialogue is going to ramp up as people realize these decisions impact them in many ways,” explained Jan Booher from The Climate Action Coalition of South Florida.

The group organized the event in conjunction with theHighWaterLine project and the United Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton’s Florida Earth Festival.

John Morgan is Delray Beach’s sustainability officer. He said flooding can be caused by salt water in the Intracoastal going up drains meant to carry rain water off the mainland into the Intracoastal.

He also said rising sea levels push the underground water table higher, leaving less room for the ground to absorb rain water.

“Four feet of sea level rise is way off in the future, but four feet of water rise is a reality, it could be next summer with hurricane season,” Morgan pointed out.

He said there is time to prepare. Delray Beach is in the process of capping rain water drains, so water from the Intracoastal doesn’t enter them.

Morgan said the city is also considering higher seawalls, more retention ponds and underground tanks on the barrier island to contain storm water.

Frohman’s home is within the reach of the blue line in the Marina Historic District. He hopes other residents get the message of awareness.

“You know during hurricane season to always have a little extra precaution,” he said.

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