Until recently, hardly anyone was talking about incorporating sea-level rise into a city or county's comprehensive development master plan, Berry said. "In the last five years we have seen major progress and it's partly because the problems have become more apparent."
The fact that elected officials are discussing sea-level rise is a victory, said James Murley, executive director of the South Florida Regional Planning Council.
"There is a change in the attitude that people have," said Murley, a senior associate for energy and climate change at the Florida Center for Environmental Studies. "The most important thing that the compact does, it allows for a healthy discussion about what's going on based on science, and allows different opinions to be proffered."
In November, Miami Beach approved a stormwater management master plan that takes into account the rising sea. The plan will be implemented over a 20-year period at a cost of about $206 million.
"It sets a new design standard for all future projects," said Miami Beach public works director Fred Beckmann. "It takes into account sea-level rise projections for the next 20 years."
The new stormwater system will include backflow preventers, more pump stations, higher seawalls and stormwater storage.
Miami Beach, with the Atlantic Ocean to the east and Biscayne Bay to the west, is considered a pioneer in making climate change part of its capital improvement planning.
"We are one of the few, if not the only one in Florida, that has taken sea-level rise into consideration when [creating] a stormwater master plan," said Mayor Matti Herrera Bower.
She said she knew very little about the issue until she attended summits on climate change and had discussions with city staffers.
The staff turned its attention to the rising sea after a so-called 50-year storm produced flash flooding on June 5, 2009. The city got almost 10 inches of rain, its drainage system was overwhelmed, and flooding was reported in more than 20 locations, Beckmann said.