The City of Tampa is starting to research how to improve coastal infrastructure along Palmetto Beach, after receiving a $200,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.By Casey Albritton

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – The City of Tampa took its first step towards protecting the coastline from rising sea levels.

Following a report stating that miles of coastal land could be devastated due to rising sea levels because of climate change in the next 30 years, Tampa engineers and scientists are taking action.

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Neal Hargis is president of the Palmetto Beach Community Association and lives right along McKay Bay.

“If a big storm does come and hit us, we are pretty worried about our protection at this point. We see our sea wall kind of crumbling every day. We see more rocks going into the McKay Bay,” Hargis.

He says with rising sea levels due to climate change, a big storm could be detrimental to homes and the environment.

“We get some standing waters that will go in the intersections, along some of the streets that are closer to the bay, and so should that really escalate…we know where it’s going to hit and a lot of us aren’t really comfortable with that,” said Hargis.

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Real estate agent and resident in Palmetto Beach, Laura Myer, is also concerned about the potential for flooding.

“The seawall here is the only protection we have as residents in this neighborhood and all of the storm surge from Ybor City and the Port of Tampa dumps out into our bay. I live three houses off of the bay so every time a storm comes, I’m peaking off of my front porch and checking to see how high the waters have gotten,” said Myer.

Last week the Tampa Bay Partnership released a report showing that if flooding and water surge protections aren’t put in place, much of the Pinellas Peninsula and Tampa could see a loss of coastal land. The report also states by 2070, we could see a loss of $16.9 billion in property values and $238 million in sales, tourism, and more.

“This is going to be a little more than a year-long study. We are going to be out here sampling water quality, meeting with the community, understanding how these seawalls might be reimagined,” said Whit Remer, Sustainability and Resilience Officer for the City of Tampa.

Remer says on Tuesday the City of Tampa is starting to research how to improve coastal infrastructure along Palmetto Beach, after receiving a $200,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

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“There is not a solution here where we don’t do anything for the next 30 years. We’re going to continue to make Tampa as resilient and sustainable as possible,” said Remer.