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Hurricanes and Wetlands


Wetlands act as buffers for wind and water and are valuable in reducing wave energy which can damage structures and cause deaths.  Wetland buffers reduce flood damage by absorbing flood waters caused by significant storm events and rain. Wetlands provide a natural defense from flooding and storm surges. 
The Manatee County Commission should abandon its efforts to weaken wetland protections in Manatee County. The County Commission recently voted to transmit changes to the Florida Department of Commerce that will gut many wetland protections and defer to weaker state wetland protection standards.  

It is expected the Department of Commerce will rubberstamp the request and send it back to the County for final approval within months.
According to the EPA: Wetlands: Protecting Life and Property from Flooding 

Wetlands in many locations play an important role in flood protection. Nowhere is this function more important than along coastal areas. Coastal areas are vulnerable to hurricanes and other powerful storms, and the flat coastal terrain means that land and property can be exposed to the full power of these storms. Preserving and reconstructing coastal marshes can help reduce storm damage. Coastal wetlands serve as storm surge protectors when hurricanes or tropical storms come ashore. in the Gulf Coast area, barrier islands, shoals, marshes, forested wetlands and other features of the coastal landscape can provide a significant and potentially sustainable buffer from wind wave action and storm surge generated by tropical storms and hurricanes. 

The Manatee County Commission is stripping away many of the requirements for buffers around wetlands.  During the County’s only public hearing to transmit the proposed changes to weaken wetland protection, Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge incorrectly identified wetland buffers as a “taking” of private property rights. 
Requiring wetland buffers around wetlands is not a "taking". Eliminating wetland buffers during development and phosphate mining proposals a “giving.”
It is giving developers and miners the right to develop up to the very edge of the wetland, even though landowners currently do not have that right. The County’s Land Development Code already allows for flexibility of the width of a wetland buffer on a case-by-case basis. 
What is being taken away is:  

  • protection of the environmental integrity of a wetland,
  • protection against flooding and storm surges, 
  • protection against pollutants entering public waterways,
  • it is a taking that will impact the lives and property of every resident, and the ability of people to enjoy the waters free from pollution.

Wetland protection is one of the most significant actions the County Commission can do for the protection of the water supply, water quality, and the general well-being and health of the citizens they represent.
Manatee County has allowed development in low and coastal areas which will result in catastrophic losses when a major storm occurs. In short, past Commissions and the current County Commission have taken far too little interest in preparing for and safeguarding against the next major storm event. There appears to be no consideration given to this problem when approving new development.
As the likelihood and costs of hurricanes continue to increase, Manatee County will need to adopt strategies to reduce the risks from storm surges and flooding. Eliminating wetland protections by reducing or eliminating buffers around wetlands is a significant step backward in protecting the lives and property of people living in Manatee County. 

Glenn Compton is the Chairman of ManaSota 88, a non-profit organization that has spent over 30 years fighting to protect the environment of Manatee and Sarasota counties.


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  • ruthlawler

    Glenn Compton will address League of Women Voters Manatee, Natural Resources Committee via zoom on Thursday, Sept. 21, at 7 PM. Please sign on and hear the facts and insights followed by question and answers. The better informed we are allows us to vote and speak up with knowledge.

    Questions? Ruth Lawler, co-chair of Natural Resources committee. ruthlawler@att.net

    Sunday, September 10, 2023 Report this

  • Mtmartin


    You're exactly right there is no consideration given to the decision to reduce wetlands protections and the inevitable flooding and damage that wil occur to those news developments to be constructed in flood zone A. The only strategy KVO has is to enrich himself and his sponsors as much as he can before he gets sent home. The "expert consultant" Daniel DeLisi has no background in science but he does have considerable ties to the Peoples Republic of China. This a small but strategic win for our neer peer competitors. Thanks Manatee County BOCC.

    Tuesday, September 12, 2023 Report this