In part one, we discussed the massive impact that flooding is having on the State of Florida and how local governments are stepping up efforts to mitigate flood damage by investing in infrastructure. However, flooding is happening on a massive scale across our nation — 44 disasters stemming from flooding and hurricanes occurred in 2017 alone. In order to truly combat flooding, our nation must not only repair flood-damaged infrastructure but also maintain and build infrastructure that keeps flooding at bay.
Below, a Florida contractor lawyer with Cotney Construction Law concludes this series by taking a look at the current state of our water infrastructure and how our country can better address flood risks. For all of your construction-related legal needs, consult the Florida contractor lawyers from Cotney Construction Law.
When the Levee Breaks
As we covered previously, America received an embarrassing infrastructure report card in 2017. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave our great nation an overall grade of D+. Individually graded categories included bridges, transit, and roads, among others. Of note, our nation’s levees and dams both received a D grade. These systems are vital for flood control and protecting “communities, critical infrastructure, and valuable property.”
The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) oversees a system that “is one of the largest in the world, providing flood control and protecting [the] water supply for 8.1 million residents and businesses.” The SFWMD oversees an impressive 2,100 miles of canals, 2,000 miles of levees/berms, 71 pump stations, 600 water control stations, and 625 project culverts. “Moving water to meet varying conditions is essential to sustaining South Florida’s people, economy and our environment.”
All told, U.S. levees protect $1.3 trillion in property. And as our dams age, the number of potentially hazardous dams — that number currently stands at about 15,500 — will only increase and become a flood risk themselves. The ASCE estimates that it will take $125 billion to repair and improve our nation’s dams and levees.
How the Construction Industry Is Impacted
While flooding is a growing threat, your company will actually have fewer regulations to contend with on federally funded construction projects. In an executive order signed by President Donald Trump, regulations were rolled back that required federal construction projects to either be built away from flood-prone areas or be built to a higher standard to mitigate flood risks. As The New York Times reports, the executive order was signed to “eliminate and streamline some permitting regulations and to speed construction of roads, bridges and pipelines.” Consult one of our Florida contractor attorneys for comprehensive information on regulations you must abide by on federally funded construction projects.
As for funding, President Trump’s initial infrastructure plan included a $1.5 trillion budget, which could have seen a significant portion go towards water infrastructure that could mitigate flooding. Among other goals, the plan aimed to “Incentivize the efficient development and management of water infrastructure, in part, by providing more flexibility to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its partners.” When President Trump met with democrats, they agreed to invest a much needed $2 trillion into our nation’s infrastructure. Although a plan was not yet in place, this was a good sign of progress. However, the infrastructure plan eventually fell through as talks broke down.
For contractors who work on flood prevention projects, this shouldn’t be interpreted as the end of the world. State and local government spending on water infrastructure far surpasses that of the federal government. Furthermore, as mentioned in part one, state and local governments are stepping up efforts to combat ever-increasing flood risks. Having said that, there’s no reason you can’t voice your opinions to lawmakers.
A Wealth of Opportunity
Bottom line: there will be plenty of work for Florida construction companies in the years to come. Flooding is an unfortunate and unavoidable problem that only the construction industry can solve. As the problem grows, contractors will be called upon at an increased frequency to repair flood-damaged structures, raise roads, and install seawalls. You may be called upon to work on our state’s aging system of dams and levees or to build to a high standard to ensure that a structure can withstand flood risks. Florida’s building code, for example, has specific regulations regarding the construction of buildings in flood hazard areas. Navigating regulations such as these without professional guidance is no easy feat.
For a partner that can assist you on flood-prevention projects and similar large-scale construction projects, consult a Florida construction attorney from Cotney Construction Law. Only an attorney who specializes in construction can help you navigate the nuanced laws and challenges that pertain to this industry. For an on-demand attorney that will work to put your interests first, partner with a Florida construction attorney from Cotney Construction Law.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.