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By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Reports of damages to coastal cities around the world due to rising sea levels are becoming increasingly common. The city of Cape Town, in South Africa, is just one of the latest to tackle the problem.

With global warming, residents of Cape Town, South Africa, are already experiencing sea level rise, Miami Beach, Miami, Florida, News
With global warming, residents of Cape Town, South Africa, are already experiencing sea level rise, photo by Hilton1949/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

Marian Nieuwoudt, in charge of Spatial Planning and Environment for Cape Town said last month during a public hearing on the issue, “A specific concern to the city is that public and private infrastructure will become increasingly at risk.”

Continuing, “[At risk] to coastal processes such as erosion, and beaches as public recreational spaces are likely to become increasingly at risk in developed areas of the metro in the long-term.”

According to authorities, some of the coastline along the Cape Town jurisdiction, like Milnerton is already being washed away by erosion and storm surges, and municipal officials have started to discuss the option of removing residents from the area.

“We may need to retreat and allow nature to provide a barrier to the ocean,” warned Nieuwoudt.

At the August meeting, the official said ‘immediate survival maintenance’ was required for the municipalities coastal areas, since in addition to Milnerton, several other regions along Cape Town’s coast are being affected by sea level rise and climate change, such as Glencairn, Hout Bay and Seapoint.

According to Nieuwoudt, the city spent $13.5 million South African Rands (US$900,000) on recovery and restoration of damaged coastal infrastructure last year, and another $66 million South African Rands (US$4.44 million) has been earmarked for current projects.

Much, say officials, must be done to restore natural barriers such as dunes and wetlands which have been compromised due to infrastructure development and the canalization of estuaries.

A report issued in 2015 by the city’s Coastal Management Program Global suggested a mean sea level rise of 0.76 meters by 2100.

Although the rise may seem small, said officials, it would cause ‘disproportionately large impacts on the damage that storms cause to the coastal zone’.

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