May 22, 2019

MARATHON — The city of Marathon hosted a discussion and review last Thursday of its current policies and regulations for surface water management and flood damage prevention.

All of Marathon is identified as a coastal floodplain that may be subject to flooding, according to a Florida Department of Environmental Protection Coastal Resilience Study.

The need for the data, mapping and modeling dates to a 2015 “Peril of Flood” statute signed by former Gov. Rick Scott. The statute requires local governments to consider future flood risk from storm surge and sea level rise in the coastal element of their comprehensive land use plans.

Sea level rise is one of the causes of flood risk that must be addressed in the “development and redevelopment principles, strategies and engineering solutions,” according to Planning Director George Garrett.

The city must seek public input, review and update the comprehensive plan and ordinances, and provide an engineering report and revised code.

During the May 16 presentation, monthly sea level data collected from Key West since the early 1990s and used in three different models showed a predicted sea level rise of 6 to 12 inches by 2030 and 14 to 26 inches by 2060. Applying the models to Marathon showed audience members where the worst-affected areas could be.

Among possible adaptation strategies are creating green infrastructure with swales and berms, creating living shorelines, elevating or flood-proofing infrastructure, enhancing beach nourishment, building up the shoreline and building seawalls and/or pump stations.

No decisions were made during the presentation. Various factors come into play for the decision-makers including environmental, financial and social considerations. Marathon does not have to reinvent the wheel but can consider actions undertaken by other Florida communities including Jupiter, Bradenton, Clearwater, North Bay Village, Tarpon Springs, Flagler Beach and St. Augustine.

Among the next steps are for the city to draft an ordinance amending the city’s comprehensive plan to incorporate the requirements of the Peril of Flood statute. Marathon’s council is to decide which recommended revisions it will adopt and will hold two readings, which will allow public comment, of the final draft ordinance set tentatively for adoption on June 10.

Those with Marathon property interests may request flood information before buying or selling property and land. To see a particular address, visit https://msc.fema.gov/portal/home. The city is beginning to acquire and maintain elevation certificates for properties that have been substantially improved or constructed in Marathon.