Environmental and economic risks from sinkholes in west-central Florida
Paleologos, Evan K.
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Data from the last twenty years for sinkhole occurrences in West Central Florida are used in conjunction with population and housing data, including house prices, to assess the risk of a house being swallowed by a sinkhole, together with the likely economic loss. The top five relocation cities in each of Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties are investigated in detail to determine relative risk as well as absolute risk. Because of the massive urbanization taking place in the area, the sinkhole risk is increasing due to water related problems as well as because of the underlying karst topography. Pinellas County is better placed in this regard than Hillsborough or Pasco Counties because of its lower karst component. The city with the highest likelihood of risk is Tampa, probably due to its massive urbanization over the last twenty years. Coastal cities most at risk from sinkhole effects on housing are New Port Richey and Hudson, but they are a very distant second and third compared to Tampa. Economic damage risk estimates to housing are around $5MM per year for Tampa and are sure to increase in the near future.