Innovative Public-Private Partnerships and Sea Level Adaptation
Private Enterprise Will Work With Governments To Invigorate Public Infrastructure As Seas Advance
The financial demands on all levels of government to confront the challenges of sea level rise will be staggering. In just one city alone, Miami Beach, over $400,000,000 is being spent to improve drainage and construct pumping stations.
Such investments, into the trillions of dollar level, will be multiplied by hundreds of coastal villages, towns, cities and counties across America.
Just as a noted attorney once said, "No man is an island." Neither are governments. That’s why Public-Private Partnerships ("P3's") exist.
According to the Florida Council for Public-Private Partnerships, a P3 is "A collaborative solution involving the private-sector to procure public assets." Through unique financing agreements, P3's aid in the construction and operation of public assets in the delivery of services to the public. In exchange, private industry makes money from the public investments.
According to Stateline, the Daily News Service of the Pew Charitable Trusts, "Under the P3 strategy, private companies typically cover the up front costs of projects, in exchange for the right to run the facilities and to collect tolls or other payments."
Intelligent adaptation to sea level rise has two key byproducts.
The first is the potential generation of massive economic activity, including jobs and significant revenue.
The second is efficient delivery of governmental functions, run by private entities.
Simply put, billions of dollars will be made in making the "new Florida." Private industry will have a larger role to play in SLR adaptation than ever envisioned.
Take, for example, salt water intrusion into the aquifer of South Florida.
As more ocean water invades the fresh water deposits we all depend upon, the cost of creating drinking and potable water for the millions who live in this area will increase. Ultimately, scores of desalination plants will be needed to meet the demand.
The use of P3's to build and maintain water facilities is not new, and the P3 example is being used to create toll roads, schools, tunnels, university dormitories, prisons and other public works infrastructure.
Notes the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD): As of 2012, South Florida had two seawater desalination plants and 33 brackish desalination plants with the capacity of producing "245 million gallons of portable water per day."
If current predictions about sea level rise are correct, and as fresh water supplies decrease, many more expensive plants will be needed.
The public cost of producing more desalination plants to meet ecological and human demands over the coming decades can be mitigated by the use of P3's. The example has already been established with the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s partnership with a private company to run the Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination Plant.
Here’s the point: The P3 method of financing, construction and operation will not end with water treatment facilities. They can extend to storm sewer pumping stations, bridge projects, road and land elevation projects and other adaptation projects for the public good.
Florida is changing physically. Soon more creative P3 fiscal functions will be utilized to deal with advancing ocean waters.