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USF to host second 'Dutch dialogue' on water, climate change

TAMPA — The University of South Florida's Patel Center for Global Solutions, in collaboration with the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission and the Dutch government, will host a second workshop in its "Dutch dialogue" on Wednesday, bringing together local and international water experts to prepare cities for the consequences of climate change.

Researchers, urban planners, municipal administrators and local government representatives will gather from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Gibbons Alumni Center at USF's Tampa campus for a series of discussions on city planning, Gulf Coast climate change adaptation, energy infrastructure and post-disaster recovery measures.

The dialogue is an outgrowth of USF's partnership with UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in Delft, the Netherlands, the world's pre-eminent institution on water education and research. In 2007, USF became the first American university to sign a memorandum of understanding with IHE to collaborate on research and education.

"When people think about climate change, the first thing they think about is sea level rise," said Daniel Yeh, a research fellow at the Patel Center and USF assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. "However, in addition to sea level rise, there is increased temperatures, irregular weather patterns, flooding — all those phenomena will wreak havoc on infrastructure.

"We want people at all different levels to think about adaptation, about how can we prepare our infrastructure for the uncertainty that comes with climate change."

Speakers at Wednesday's event will include representatives of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, Tampa Bay Water, Tampa Electric, the Florida Department of Transportation, and Hillsborough County Planning and Growth Management, as well as the Royal Netherlands Embassy and Dutch consulting firm DHV BV.

The program draws on the geographical similarities between Tampa and Rotterdam, Europe's largest port. Florida and Holland have similar low-lying coastlines that are heavily urbanized, and vulnerable to storms, rising sea levels and increased risks of flooding.

Rotterdam has created a multidecade plan to renovate and adapt its planning and infrastructure to the rising sea levels and flooding problems brought on by climate change. USF researchers are hoping that local officials can draw on the Dutch experience as they began considering how climate change may affect Tampa and other Gulf Coast cities.

USF hosted the first of its workshops with Dutch officials this summer as a group of USF students were in the Netherlands studying and researching water issues, and more than 20 water managers from developing nations in Asia and Africa studied Florida water infrastructure.

The dialogues are building toward a multiday symposium with the Dutch Water Sector and the American Planning Association in Summer 2010.

To register for the free event and for more information, visit the event Web site: mbr.eng.usf.edu/florida-holland-water/CCA2/index.htm.

USF to host second 'Dutch dialogue' on water, climate change 11/16/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 16, 2009 1:32pm]
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