Q&A Of The Day – What Other South Florida Locations Are Sinking? Part 2
Bottom Line: The published 2020 FIU-led study showed widespread subsiding throughout Miami Beach. Notably, the Champlain Towers South site receding at 1.9mm annually, wasn’t the location with the greatest receding. Other locations specifically cited where developments exist included Flamingo/Lummus which was monitored at a decline of 2mm annually. Another, Park View, was monitored to be sinking at a rate of 2.3mm annually between 1993-1999. In the study, they specifically cited the worst receding having occurred at sites of reclaimed wetlands. Champlain’s site wasn’t one of those.
While the point of today’s question is really to determine where additional risk exists, this is where the conversation comes full circle. As previously mentioned, Mexico City which sits 7,150 feet higher above sea level that Surfside and Miami Beach, has the highest monitored rate of subsiding at 15 inches. The point being, land anywhere may be susceptible, and this isn’t as easy as thinking it’s something unique to the coast. Incidentally, in the same FIU study, Norfolk appeared to have more pervasive sinking than Miami Beach. That’s why FIU’s Dr. Shimon Wdowinski said the sinking alone wouldn’t account for the tragedy we’ve witnessed and to that end mean that a repeat is due to happen nearby as a result. Maintenance of structures is critical.
On Thursday, I briefly referenced a level of understanding of some of what can go wrong left uncared for at these buildings. As recently as 2012, I was the HOA Vice-President of a beach front condo building on South Palm Beach. Despite the building only being approximately 25 years old at the time discovered, it was determined that salt air had compromised post-tension cables to the building resulting in the need to replace most of them. Failing to do so could have compromised the entire building’s structure. And therein likely is the answer for other concerned residents and condo owners. While it appears possible the cited “major structural issues” in the 2018 engineering report were a by-product of gradual subsiding – it appears the biggest issue may have been failing to address the structural improvements the building was cited as needing in time.