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New Florida Law Requires Sea Level Impact Projection Studies on Coastal Construction Projects featured image

New Florida Law Requires Sea Level Impact Projection Studies on Coastal Construction Projects

When we last discussed flooding’s impact on infrastructure, we covered Miami Beach’s plans to spend $500 million to improve pumps, upgrade pipes, and elevate roads. Flooding is a growing issue that is already threatening to make areas of Florida uninhabitable. In order to combat this issue, a new Florida law will require contractors on publicly funded coastal construction projects to conduct project-specific sea-level impact projection (SLIP) studies. Below, we discuss the creation of Florida Statute 161.551 and what contractors can do to comply with its contents. For assistance complying with new and established state laws alike, consult the Miami construction lawyers from Cotney Attorneys & Consultants. 

Related: U.S. Army Corps Proposes $4.6B Flood Control Project in Miami-Dade County

Public Financing of Construction Projects Within the Coastal Building Zone

Effective July 1, 2021, contractors will be unable to commence construction on “coastal structures,” defined as major structures or non-habitable major structures within the coastal building zone, without first conducting a SLIP study and submitting it to Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for approval. Although a standard rule has yet to be established, contractors will, at the minimum, need to do the following: 

  • Conduct the study using a systematic, interdisciplinary, and scientifically accepted approach in the natural sciences and construction design.
  • Assess flooding risks as they relate to either structure’s expected lifespan or 50 years, whichever is less.
  • Provide design and siting alternatives as well as the cost of constructing, repairing, and maintaining the structure. 

Of note, the DEP may halt projects or take legal action against a contractor who commences construction without complying with SLIP study requirements. 

Related: Important Notices for Coastal Construction 

The Importance of Complying With State Law 

No one wants to hear that there is yet another rule — a rule that has yet to be worked out — that could result in penalties if not followed. However, this new law had the potential to be far more stringent. A previous version would have required contractors on private projects to secure SLIP studies, something that could have resulted in private owners backing out of construction projects. 

It’s important to remember that flooding is a very real problem in Florida, especially in Southeast Florida where sea levels are expected to rise by as much as six feet by 2100. Laws like these are essential for ensuring that local property owners are not driven out of their homes and businesses by floodwaters, but that doesn’t make these laws any easier to follow. For assistance complying with this law by the July 1, 2021 deadline, consult the Miami construction attorneys at Cotney Attorneys & Consultants. 

If you would like to speak with one of our Miami construction lawyers, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.