As noted by a recent report commissioned by the City of Boston, climate changes coming to the city and the surrounding region are expected to be far more significant than previous studies have suggested. The Boston report reveals that local sea level, documented by tide measurements since 1921, has risen approximately one foot over the last century. Without aggressive actions to cut emissions, we could likely see an additional six (or more) feet of sea level rise by 2100. Heavy downpours have been increasing since the 1950s and are expected to continue. The total amount of annual snowfall will decrease, while heat waves will become more common, last longer, and be hotter.
Communities around Massachusetts are taking note, and taking action. The MA Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) reports a record number of proposals submitted in June by coastal municipalities throughout Massachusetts to the CZM 2016 Coastal Resilience Grant Program. Resiliency projects are aiming to reduce communities’ vulnerability to these kinds of climate changes.
The Ipswich River Watershed Association, through its Great Marsh Resiliency Planning Project with the National Wildlife Federation, is helping communities with their efforts. In northern Essex County, multiple towns took steps to move their coastal resiliency projects forward. Proposals for CZM’s grant funding included: river bank restoration efforts along the Ipswich River, evaluation of living shoreline techniques in Essex Bay and the Great Marsh, dune grass planting and restoration along Plum Island beach, and analysis of sediment in area salt marshes. (Grant awards will be announced in mid-July.)
An array of new outreach materials about Great Marsh climate resiliency are now available on line. Recently developed maps from the National Wildlife Federation are helping six towns identify areas in their community that are particularly vulnerable to coastal flooding. Educational brochures describe the resiliency planning project are also on line, and will soon be available in local libraries and municipal offices. All new outreach projects, found on www.greatmarshresiliency.org, were funded thanks to a 2015 Coastal Resiliency grant from CZM.
Concerns about climate impacts extend inland, as well. Throughout the region, we have already witnessed some of the effects of climate change on water infrastructure – from sudden impacts of storms, polluted runoff, and flooding of treatment facilities, to the slower moving impacts of long-term drought that affect availability of water supplies. To manage climate impacts, water managers will need to adopt policies and practices that integrate planning for climate change into their overall management plans and invest in emergency response planning.
The Ipswich River Watershed Association’s Municipal Services program aims to help communities with these issues and others. For more information, contact Kristen Grubbs at 978-412-8200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.