Sea Level Rise
On average, global sea levels have risen 8–9 inches (21–24 centimeters) since 1880. The rate of sea level rise is accelerating, and has more than doubled from 0.06 inches (1.4 millimeters) per year throughout most of the twentieth century to 0.14 inches (3.6 millimeters) per year from 2006–2015. In many locations along the US coastline, high-tide flooding is now 300% to 900% more frequent than it was 50 years ago. Today, tidal flooding on average affects the US Gulf and Atlantic coastlines 3 to 6 days per year. By the 2040s, tidal flooding events are projected to increase to as often as 80 to 180 days a year according to NOAA. This rise in sea levels is due to melting terrestrial ice sheets and glaciers and the thermal expansion of ocean water as a result of increasing global temperatures.
How will sea level rise affect the City of Cape Canaveral?
The City of Cape Canaveral is a barrier island municipality, with the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Banana River Lagoon to the west. Both bodies of water play a vital role in sustaining the City’s socio-economic activities and support the larger Central Florida economy as a whole—and will likely be impacted by rising seas.
In 2019, City Staff and representatives of the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council (ECFRPC) completed months of analysis and outreach to create the City’s first Vulnerability Assessment (Assessment). Funded by a grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) through their Florida Resilient Coastlines Program (FRCP)—a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) approved program—the report created by the ECFRPC examined the impacts sea-level rise and flooding within Cape Canaveral. The report employs several models developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and NOAA to project possible sea-level rise scenarios and the respective impacts on the City. Timeframes evaluated as part of the report include 2040, 2070 and 2100. The report also models future sea-level rise and its effect on storm surge created by tropical cyclones. According to the Assessment’s findings, the City of Cape Canaveral is estimated to see between 5.15 and 8.48 feet of sea level rise by 2100.
It is important to note though that affects can be expected much earlier than 2100, with higher sea levels already having an impact on our coastline in the form of increased beach erosion, larger storm surges during tropical cyclones, and more instances of nuisance flooding (also called sunny day flooding), or flooding that occurs at exceptional high tides that causes inland inundation over prolonged periods. Tide gauge data from Trident Pier—located in Port Canaveral—indicates a consistent trend in the increase of historical yearly flood events, with the average maximum daily water levels during the highest tide of the year now about 9 inches above 1994 levels.
What is the City doing about it?
The City’s Vulnerability Assessment was the first step in understanding the local risk presented by sea level rise. Residents are encouraged to read the Assessment’s findings and recommendations to learn more.
Today, the City has numerous mitigation strategies either in place or in development in order to adaptively manage the risk posed by sea level rise to both City facilities and residents. Below is an overview of some of these efforts. This list is by no means comprehensive, as the City is constantly building on its efforts to protect its residents' safety. This list will continue to be updated on this page as the City moves forward with future resiliency initiatives.
For real time information related to storm surge and coastal flooding please visit the National Weather Service showcasing data from the Trident Pier tide gauge in Port Canaveral.
The City of Cape Canaveral has established the Adopt-A-Mangrove Program to provide interested property owners with the opportunity to “adopt” mangroves to improve shoreline protection. This is a voluntary program that will assist with the planting and care of these important plants, which serve a critical role in the health and well-being of the Indian and Banana River Lagoon systems. Rules and guidelines must be met and followed by interested mangrove “Adopters” who wish to partake in this volunteer community outreach initiative before planting on one’s property can begin. These guidelines are meant to ensure resident safety, City code, state environmental compliance. Please read the Adopt-A-Mangrove Program Guide to further information.
Mangroves are a critical aspect of Florida’s marine ecosystems. Sometimes called the “kidneys of the coast,” mangroves filter water they are situated in and can maintain water quality that helps coral reefs and nearshore seagrasses grow. Due to their dense root structures, mangroves also help to stabilize coastlines by reducing shoreline erosion, decreasing incoming wave energy, minimizing storm surge heights and potentially providing a windbreak. This program falls in line with the City’s goal of planting 300 new Mangroves on its lagoon shoreline within five years.
American Flood Coalition Member
The American Flood Coalition (Coalition) is a nonpartisan group of political, military, business and local leaders that have come together to drive adaptation to the reality of higher seas, stronger storms, and more frequent flooding. The Coalition seeks to advance national solutions that support flood-affected communities and protect our nation’s residents, economy and military installations—while advocating for proactive planning and smarter policies. Like the Coalition, the City believes that impacts from sea level rise and flooding are an important issue, one that requires regional and national coordination. Investing in adaptation planning and projects that reduce risk and protect home values and the highways, ports and other essential infrastructure is vital to our Community. For more information on the American Flood Coalition, visit https://floodcoalition.org/.
Canaveral City Park Water Exfiltration System
As part of the revised stormwater master plan (2014), the City completed a stormwater improvement project that included exfiltration tanks placed under the Canaveral City Park baseball field in 2016. The project included the installation of stormwater chambers beneath two outfield areas and one infield area of Canaveral City Park that capture approximately 931,000 gallons of stormwater. Once inside these chambers, stormwater is allowed to percolate down into the underlying soil where it is naturally filtered. The contributing area of treatment is equivalent to 30.3 acres. Upon completion of the stormwater chamber installation activities, the Park was returned to its original land use while capturing runoff and preventing it from entering the Banana River Lagoon.
In 2019 the underground system was modified to be able to accept excess reclaim water from the City’s Water Reclamation Facility so as to reduce the number of discharges into the lagoon. If conditions are correct, reclaim water can be transferred directly from the plant to the exfiltration system where reclaim water will gradually flow down into the porous soil below and be filtered.
Additionally, the City has numerous proposed stormwater improvement projects listed in the revised stormwater master plan (City of Cape Canaveral Basin Management Action Plan Compliance Strategy), that when completed will allow the City to meet its target goal for further reducing nitrogen and phosphorus from stormwater runoff. See also, Stormwater and wastewater management projects below.
City Hall Exfiltration System
Cape Canaveral City Hall also utilizes an underground stormwater exfiltration system similar to the one found at Canaveral City Park. Located under the north and east parking areas, Cape Canaveral City Hall’s system has a stormwater runoff capture area equivalent to about 0.35 acres, taking the place of a traditional stormwater pond that would have otherwise been impossible to build due to space limitations.
Comprehensive Plan Coastal Management Element
Comprehensive Plan Coastal Management Element
Development in Florida is guided by growth management legislation that passed in 1985. Section 163.3177, F.S., requires that local governments’ comprehensive plans provide policy for local planning and land-use decisions on several issues such as capital improvements, conservation, intergovernmental coordination, recreation, open space, future land use, housing, transportation, public facilities, and coastal management (where applicable). Comprehensive planning is important because it results in decisions regarding long-term issues such as environmental protection and economic development, and ensures that cities work with the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to comply and coordinate with other state agencies for local development.
As a coastal municipality, the City of Cape Canaveral is required by Florida law, to include a coastal management element in the City’s comprehensive plan. In 2017, the City passed Ordinance No. 10-2017 to update its Comprehensive Plan to include a coastal management element. The update includes policies that indicate the City’s willingness to pursue adaptation planning strategies over the next few years. The element must set forth principles, guidelines, standards and strategies to reduce the risk of flooding. Notably, F.S.§163.3177 and 163.3178, require that coastal management activities use studies, surveys and data to create redevelopment components that outline principles used to eliminate inappropriate and unsafe development in coastal areas. Moreover, the State encourages communities to take additional steps to develop strategies to become more resilient. Generally, resiliency planning uses data generated by analyzing a city’s key assets (economic, infrastructure, natural) and examining how they may be impacted by various sea-level rise scenarios. Models used in these analyses are designed by organizations such as the US Army Corps of Engineers, University of Florida and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. With this in mind, the City will work with the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council (ECFRPC) to develop a resiliency assessment specific to the City of Cape Canaveral. These efforts, collectively known as adaptation planning, will allow the City to take steps to address current and future coastal planning in Cape Canaveral.
East Central Florida Regional Planning Council (ECFRPC) Partner
The ECFRPC was established in 1962 as an area-wide association of governments. It is represented by 32 Council Members and a skilled staff that provides technical assistance to governments and organizations within eight counties in the East Central Florida region. These counties include Brevard, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia. The ECFRPC staff has expertise in a variety of areas including land use, environmental planning, comprehensive planning, resilience and emergency management. Recently, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) awarded the City a grant to work with the ECFRPC to develop a community-based resiliency assessment for Cape Canaveral. This project is ongoing and updates will be provided as more information becomes available. For more information, visit: ECFRPC and the Florida Resilient Coastlines Program.
Because of the City’s location, Cape Canaveral is susceptible to storm surge and coastal flooding events. The City has procedures in place that aim to: safeguard life, minimize injuries, protect property, ensure organized preparedness, and achieve an early return of services in the event of a flooding event. Additionally, the City disseminates information through various channels and coordinates with the Brevard County Emergency Management Office to communicate a message of year-round preparedness in the event of a storm, coastal flooding, or other natural disasters. The Your Pathways to Preparedness guide provides resources that residents and visitors can use in an emergency. For more information, visit the Brevard County Emergency Management Office web page and follow City-related updates on the City of Cape Canaveral website and social media. Should a coastal flooding event be predicted to adversely affect resident safety and wellbeing, the City will communicate warnings and recommendations to prepare in a timely manner.
FEMA CRS Program
FEMA CRS Program
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS) is a program designed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to recognize and encourage community floodplain management. According to FEMA, the program “credits community efforts beyond those minimum standards by reducing flood insurance premiums for the community’s property owners.” For CRS participating communities, flood insurance premium rates are discounted in increments of 5%. A Class 1 community would receive a 45% premium discount, while a Class 9 community would receive a 5% discount (a Class 10 is not participating in the CRS and receives no discount). The CRS classes for local communities are based on 18 creditable activities, organized under four categories: public information, mapping and regulations, flood damage reduction, and flood preparedness. The City of Cape Canaveral is currently a CRS Class 8 community and all flood insurance premiums are reduced by 10% for all policyholders within the Special Flood Hazard area. To view flood zone information visit the: Brevard County Flood Zone Map.
In March 2020 the Public Works Services Department began installing semi-permanent flood barriers at the City’s Water Reclamation Facility. These removable aluminum barriers are 42 inches wide by 36 inches tall. When a flood event is predicted—such as a hurricane—these barriers can be put into place via mounting racks set on either side of doorways. The barriers are then tightened, creating a water-tight seal. Each door’s barrier can be deployed by as little as one staff member in under 30 seconds. This will take the place of sandbagging operations that normally take hours, allowing for more efficient flood preparations throughout other areas of the City.
A total of eight barriers will be installed at the plant to start, but more are expected to be installed at other City facilities. These barriers can also be used for one's home or business as well. If you want to learn more and see other options available visit: PSI Flood Barriers
Long Point Estuary Park Project
Currently under development, the Long Point Estuary Park Project is set to restore and embellish a disused area of land that is prone to coastal flooding at the west end of Long Point Road. In 2019, the City began clearing invasive Brazilian Pepper trees and debris from the roughly 8 acre site. Just over 71 tons (143,000 pounds) of discarded concrete and asphalt debris were removed to make way for over 350 new native trees that were planted to take the place of the Brazilian Peppers. New trees include: Live Oak, Pignut Hickory, Southern Red Cedar, Sabal Palms and American Holly.
One day these trees will grow to surround a new ADA compliant boardwalk that will make its way west through the park towards beautiful lagoon-facing gazebos and a kayak dock, with benches throughout. The park itself will help to create a vegatative buffer zone against potential storm surge impacts and erosion while also serving as an estuary for aquatic species in its protected canals. Other amenities will include informational/educational kiosks, a bike rack, bike fix-it station, ADA compliant bathrooms and bird and bat houses situated near the park’s western end.
Sea Oat Plantings
As part of the City’s Annual Sea Oats Planting Project, volunteers attend and work to prevent erosion and enhance the aesthetic qualities of Community beaches. In 2018, volunteers planted 7,200 sea oats to help support the natural dune line. City Staff from the Community Services Department typically host the event. Refreshments and planting tools are provided to volunteers, and after a short how-to demonstration, volunteers head out to the beach. To date, the City has planted over 100,000 sea oats on Cape Canaveral beaches. Beginning in 2005 when the City initially planted 2,950 sea oats, the program has grown, and in the last two years the City has planted 20,000 sea oats.
Stormwater + Wastewater Management Projects - Ongoing
Replacing of open-throat stormwater inlets with Type C inlets which reduce the amount of debris entering the stormwater system, reducing debris backups.
- Construction of stormwater management systems at both Banana River and Manatee Sanctuary Parks.
- Underground stormwater exfiltration chambers at the Cape Canaveral Fire Station.
- Exfiltration pipes installed at eight City intersections to help eliminate flooding.
- Replacement of sewer pipes located along Banana River to eliminate leaks and back-up.
- North Atlantic Avenue Streetscape Project included the construction of a swale system to collect stormwater and reduce flooding.
- Armored the Banana River Lagoon shoreline at Banana River Park, Manatee Sanctuary Park and the City’s Water Reclamation Facility to reduce erosion.
Below are several additional resources residents and visitors can use to learn more about sea level rise and its larger effects on cities.
Some common terms phrases to be aware of that you may hear in regards to sea level rise and coastal flooding include:
High Tide: The highest tide level that can be expected to occur under average meteorological conditions and under any combination of astronomical conditions. This value can be exceeded by extreme meteorological conditions, as in the case of storm surge.
King Tide: The king tide is the highest predicted high tide of the year at a coastal location. It is above the highest water level reached at high tide on an average day. King tide is not a scientific term, nor is it used in a scientific context. Anticipated 2020 King Tide dates in Florida are as follows:
- September 16–25
- October 14–21
- November 13–18
- December 13–15
Coastal Flood Advisory: A Coastal Flood Advisory is issued when minor or nuisance coastal flooding is occurring or imminent.
Coastal Flood Watch: A Coastal Flood Watch is issued when moderate to major coastal flooding is possible. Such flooding would potentially pose a serious risk to life and property.
Coast Flood Warning: A Coastal Flood Warning is issued when moderate to major coastal flooding is occurring or imminent. This flooding will pose a serious risk to life and property.
Nuisance Flooding: Nuisance flooding is the temporary inundation of low-lying areas, especially streets, during exceptionally high tide events, such as at full and new moons.
Storm Surge: Storm Surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tides. Storm surge should not be confused with storm tide, which is defined as the water level rise due to the combination of storm surge and the astronomical tide.
Sea Level Rise: An increase in the level of the world’s oceans due to the effects of global warming.
Sea Surface Heights (SSH): The topography of the ocean’s surface, typically measured by satellites.
Saltwater Intrusion: Displacement of fresh or ground water by the advance of salt water due to its greater density, usually in coastal and estuarine areas.