As Ponte Vedra Beach continues to recover from the erosive impacts of recent hurricanes, a new report released June 18 is projecting even more tough times ahead for coastal property owners due to chronic flooding.
Released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the report combined property data from real estate company Zillow with the findings of a peer-reviewed study that was published in 2017 in Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene. Attributing the chronic flooding (occurring about twice a month) to an anticipated rise in sea levels, the report details the impacts coastal states may experience by the years 2045 and 2100, excluding potential impacts from major storms.
Singling out Florida as the most at-risk coastal state in the contiguous U.S., researchers anticipate an average of about 1.8 feet of sea level rise for Florida by 2045 and 6.4 feet by 2100. According to the report, about $26 billion-worth of the state’s residential properties are currently at-risk to experience chronic flooding by 2045, and $351 billion-worth are projected to be impacted by the end of the century. In total, about 1 million Florida homes are expected to be impacted.
Locally, homes in Ponte Vedra Beach were found to be the most in danger of chronic flooding. An interactive map available on the UCS website shows that by 2045, a total of 991 homes in the area (32082) could be at-risk, with a collective worth of $514,947,817 and contributing $6,333,813 to the local property tax base. Compared to neighboring Jacksonville Beach, in which only 471 homes valued at $104,655,704 may be at-risk, the numbers are staggering.
“Not all affected communities will share the same experience,” said Erika Spanger-Siegfried, senior analyst in the Climate and Energy Program at UCS and report co-author. “Some may see sharp adjustments to their housing market in the not-too-distant future; some could see a slow, steady decline in home values; and others could potentially invest in protective measures to keep impacts at bay for a few more decades. In any case, by knowing how much time they have before a significant number of properties will be regularly flooded, communities can start planning and implementing responses now, while they still have a range of options from which to choose.”
When it comes to those responses, however, the report goes so far as to describe exactly what UCS believes they should entail, in what would seem to be an effort to influence public policy. For instance, asserting that the federal government “must play a lead role in communicating risks to the public and incorporating those risks into its own policies and actions,” the report goes on to list several state and federal policies that the organization believes should be “improved.”
Further, with a stated mission to “initiate a critical and continuing examination of governmental policy” regarding science and technology, this most recent report is not the first time UCS has veered toward the political. On its website, , the organization does not shy away from voicing its positions on various political issues – not all of which are grounded in science – and states that science is “under attack from the Trump administration and Congress.”
Politics aside, however, with the already known issue of beach erosion and now this new report of potential chronic flooding, St. Johns County may not need to worry about its population growth much longer.