Natural Infrastructure and Florida’s Resiliency Problem

P3 Focus Blog
June 17, 2021
Blog ImageWe have previously written about President Biden’s infrastructure bill and its investment in resilient infrastructure. When one typically thinks of “infrastructure,” roads, bridges, and other physical, man-made structures come to mind. However, there are nature-based solutions or “natural infrastructure” alternatives that could play an important role in Florida’s resiliency journey. Natural infrastructure is just what it sounds - infrastructure that consists of nature or imitates nature, such as mangroves, marshes, rain gardens, and bioswales. Not only can natural infrastructure protect against the impacts of climate change, these measures always result in cleaner air and water as well as the protection of our natural resources.

With Florida’s “C” grade on the White House’s infrastructure report card, taking a hard look at the natural resources we currently have and how investment in those could mitigate climate change and catastrophic climate events is certainly worthwhile. For example, marshes and mangroves can absorb and reduce wave energy and heights. Investing in marsh restoration is also more sustainable long-term because the base of the marsh will grow with sea-level rise, as opposed to the building of a seawall which will have to be replaced should the sea level rise to a level it cannot handle. Furthermore, bioswales prevent rainwater runoff that pollutes water systems and results in flooding during catastrophic weather events.

Investment in natural infrastructure is cost-effective, less time-consuming, and provides for the same long-term benefits that traditional infrastructure could provide. Of course, it is not a replacement for the billion-dollar infrastructure projects necessary to bring Florida’s grade up to an “A,” but it is an important and sustainable innovation in the fight against climate change.
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