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|Towns adapt to sea level rise|
|Written by Gillian Smith|
|Wednesday, 15 May 2013 08:46|
The towns of Duxbury, Marshfield and Scituate will hold a public workshop on the potential effects of sea level rise on the three South Shore communities.
The workshop will be held on Thursday, May 16 at 7 p.m. in the Scituate Harbor Com munity Building at 44 Jericho Road. Over the last two years, the three towns have studied the potential impacts of sea level rise.
Tom Broadrick, Duxbury Planning Director, said he has been working with Paul Halkiotis, Marshfield Town Planner and Laura Harbottle, Scituate Town Planner, on the sea level rise for the last two years.
“We decided that, since we can’t change the fact that the sea level is rising, we needed to look into adaptation plan ning,” Broadrick said. “We have to adapt to what is going to happen in the coming years.”
Marshfield has a sewer treatment facility near the marshes and when large storms come in, it gets ‘inundated.’ Broadrick said the town planners had to start thinking about how to move infrastructures like the sewer treatment facility away from the flood areas as the sea level rises.Even though Duxbury doesn't have any such infrastructures that could be seriously impacted, Broadrick said if Duxbury Beach were to breach, Snug Harbor and Powder Point would be seriously impacted.
“We’re not saying it’s going to happen tomorrow, but we do want to let people know what is going on and what we have been doing to adapt,” Broadrick said.
Halkiotis, the project manager, said it is generally accepted that the climate is changing as temperatures increase due to increased carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere.
“This trend has global ramifications and will have special impacts on coastal communities like Marshfield due to its association with increased sea level rise,” Halkiotis said.
In 2011, the three towns received $15,000 in District Local Technical Assistance from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council for an initial study of sea level rise. From the initial study it was found that the towns of Duxbury, Marshfield and Scituate comprised 23 percent of all FEMA flood insur- ance claims paid to date since the late 1970s.
"That was a red flag for us that said we have flooding issues now and will have them in the future,” Halkiotis said. “It inspired us to drill deeper into the issue to more clearly identify locations in the three towns that are the most susceptible to flooding.”
Last year, the towns received a $30,000 New England Municipal Coastal Resilience Initiative Grant from the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment. The towns sent out requests for proposals to conduct an in-depth study on teh three towns and the impacts of sea level rise, and decided on Kleinfelder Northeast, In., who has done similar research in the past for the city of Cambridge and Massport at Logan Airport. On April 1, Kleinfelder began the study, taking data from previous research on seawalls and coastlines and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) imaging done by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
As part of the project, Halkiotis said Kleinfelder is charged with producing 3-D images of 15 different areas, five locations from each town, where they could demonstrate the depth of flooding. For each spot, they are charged with presenting options to mitigate or adapt to the flooding and to make general cost estimates.
"A low cost fix would be changing zoning bylaws to require areas in the flood zone to be elevated," Halkiotis said. "A high cost item would be constructing a break water off the coast to prevent flooding."
On May 16, Kleinfelder Northeast, Inc., the project consultants, will present their findings on the impacts of sea level rise of the three-community study areas. the consultants have created 3-D maps that show where the high tide is predicted to be in 25, 50 and 70 years from now and will present the maps at the meeting.
The workshop will also feature worst-case scenario maps with projected areas of flooding during a 100-year storm event. The meeting will also include an overview of scientific assumptions, project approach and initial results of the study followed by a question and answer period.
Halkiotis said it is important to get the project started now in order to be able to plan for Town MEeting proposals, raising and appropriating funds, and getting work started on mitigation.
"The more time we have, the easier it is to carefully work out the best solutions," Halkiotis said. "We usually get a better price when our work is planned in an orderly fashion that when it is done in an emergency. With projections growign about sea level rising, it's importnat to plan for our future."