Detention pond implementation feasibility analysis in a challenging barrier island environment affected by surface hydrology, hydrogeology and climate change: Miami Beach green infrastructure case study

Bruce A. Mowry, Carlos Tamayo and Elizabeth Wheaton, City of Miami Beach, FL, USA


Sea level rise (SLR) is a latent climate change issue that is affecting coastal regions worldwide.  Flooding is the main consequence of SLR and several local and regional governments are taking the necessary measures toward adaptation and stormwater management.  Some coastal environments are more challenging than others due to factors such as topography, extreme atmospheric events, tidal effects, geology, and surface and groundwater hydrology.  

The geology of South Florida is characterized by porous limestone which allows horizontal movement of water with potential rise of groundwater table to surrounding housing causing property damage. One of the focuses is to bring water infiltration to deeper depths to allow for exfiltration.  Site specific Low Impact Development (LID) and larger scale green infrastructure strategies are effective practices to include in a stormwater management plan; however, often times these strategies require larger areas to perform more effectively as a system.  

The CMB is currently reviewing the design of a detention pond system as part of a larger project in which the Par 3 golf course will be converted into a state-of-the art park with a number of LID features. There are urban requirements to utilize detention ponds as recreational areas but mitigate shoreline variations with varying water depths. 

The main goal of this investigation is to perform a feasibility analysis on the challenges to be addressed in the design of the Par 3 detention pond in Miami Beach, FL, from a surface water and hydrogeological modeling standpoint.  Under normal conditions, a detention pond design would follow a conventional approach, but given the complexity of this particular situation, a lot of care is required in all phases of the project. Operation and maintenance of the system, saltwater intrusion, and environmental benefits with improved water quality are included in the analysis as well. 

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