USF hosts second US-Dutch dialogue on climate change
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11/18/09 Joshua Lee Holton
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

Mitigating the effects of climate change, such as potential drought and sea level rise is a concern for planners in both the U.S. and the Netherlands. Today at USF, representatives from both countries shared strategies on how to reduce greenhouse gases, adapt for potential salt water intrusion, and make sure coastal communities are resilient and sustainable.

The Netherlands has the world’s largest flood protection project, which means its expertise could be valuable for Americans. Esther von Geloven is the Commercial Officer for the Consulate General of the Netherlands.

WMNF reported on the first Dutch-American dialogue at USF five months ago. During that meeting, planners suggested that natural features like marshlands serve as effective storm surge protection for places like New Orleans and Tampa. The US Department of Transportation conducted a Gulf Coast Study in 2008 that looked at the potential effects of storm surge and relative sea level rise. Robert Kafalenos with the Federal Highway Administration says they are developing a strategy for addressing climate change effects.

Byron Barrows with TECO outlined some of the potential power plant vulnerabilities to sea level rise, as well as some of their projects that might reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The delegates considered the interconnected relationship between water and energy infrastructure. Alison Adams with Tampa Bay Water emphasized water source rotation which allows for one source of water to be stored and developed as current supplies become vulnerable due to weather.

Kathleen Neill is the Director of Policy Planning for the Florida Department of Transportation. She said that the sea level has risen 9 inches in Key West since 1917, requiring roads to be rebuilt due to the threat of flooding.

According to Dale Morris, senior Economist at the Royal Netherlands Embassy, Rotterdam is a coastal city so threatened by climate change that businesses have moved further west of the city. He says meetings like today’s could help the U.S. decide how to structure spatial planning and water storage.

Morris said that the Dutch-U.S. dialogue will give context for research done on climate change, providing guidance for future workshops. Some measures that US cities are taking could also provide valuable ideas for the Netherlands.

According to Robert Hunter with the Hillsborough County Planning Commission, the American Planning Association is having its national conference in New Orleans this April to discuss Delta Urbanism and Sustainability. They are asking engineers, and landscape architects, and politicians to participate with an interest to improve overall quality of life. To find out more, visit the event's website.

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