Smart Cities Challenges event in Miami: water quality workshops led by Deltares

Published: 26 March 2019

Deltares experts Claire Jeuken and Nicki Villars participated in a Smart Cities event in Miami last week. This event was organised by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Sharing knowledge

Experts from the Netherlands and South Florida met on the clipper ship ‘Stad Amsterdam’ on March 20th , to discuss shared challenges and solutions to issues of resilience, climate change, storm water management and harmful algal blooms. The goal was to bring the Dutch and local experts together to discuss a number of shared issues in detail in a workshop setting. This allowed exchange of information and expertise as well as chances to identify possible cooperative actions on specific issues.

Water threats Miami

The meeting was opened by the Dutch Deputy Ambassador Heleen Bakker, and the Vice Mayor of Amsterdam, Mr. Ap Reinders. Mr. Hardeep Anand, Deputy Directory of Miami Dade County Water and Sewer Department introduced the problems that the city of Miami and the entire county are facing regarding increased flooding frequency and annual algal blooms. Both of these threaten the liveability of Miami as well as the important tourist industry.

Workshops on green infrastructure and algae

Claire Jeuken led two workshop sessions on ‘Storm water pollution and green infrastructure’, while Nicki Villars led two sessions on ‘Algae and Phosphorus’ related to the algal bloom problems. The sessions included detailed discussions on the issues, approaches for addressing these and possibilities for future collaboration.

Deltares experts Claire Jeuken (left) and Nicki Villars (right) in front of the the clipper ship ‘Stad Amsterdam’, in Miami

Broward county

The storm water group discussed two existing cases in Broward County. The first case focused on identifying blue-green infrastructure solutions for a large shopping mall to make it more flood resilient. The second case focused on identifying possibilities and opportunities for developing living shorelines along existing storm water management canals south of Ft. Lauderdale airport. These living shorelines can be multi-functional, by not only improving the storm water quality, but also supporting the ecology of the canals, helping to reduce heat stress and making the area recreationally and aesthetically more attractive.

Lake Okeechobee and the Florida coastal waters

The Algae and phosphorus group discussed the nutrient pollution problems and related algal blooms that are affecting Lake Okeechobee and the Florida coastal waters. Multiple sources of pollutants were identified including cattle farms and sugar cane production as well as septic tanks and lawn fertilization. While much monitoring data exists, there is no clear assessment and quantification of the main sources. An additional problem is the past accumulation of phosphorus in soils and lake sediments, which can get released during storms and trigger algal blooms. There are also concerns that climate change can make the algal blooms more significant in the future, even if nutrient levels are reduced. The new governor has committed budget to addressing the problems, which will be necessary for the long-term effort required to significantly improve the ecology of the waters.
The exchange of experiences within the two groups led to fruitful debate on the issues.

Smart Cities meeting Baltimore

Deltares expert Henriette Otter will be participating in another Smart Cities meeting focusing on flood resilience to be held in Baltimore on March 29.