City Hosts Climate Ready Charlestown Workshop

Last week the City’s of Boston’s Environment Department continued its series of workshops to help kickoff Phase II of the Climate Ready Charlestown/East Boston project.

Boston Environment Department Project Manager Catherine McCandless gave an update on the work being done to develop a thorough plan for future protection and recovery from coastal flooding in Charlestown. Attendees of the workshop were encouraged to take the Climate Ready Charlestown survey at http://comap.sasaki.com/crsboston/.

McCandless said Charlestown is already seeing the impacts of climate change with seeing extreme temperatures. There has also been more extensive precipitation, sea level rise, and coastal storms. Those three things coupled together are leading to more storm water flooding inland in areas that redients wouldn’t think would be subject to flooding because they’re away from the coast.

Climate Ready Charlestown was first launched in 2016 and in 2017 the city conducted the first phase of Climate Ready Boston in Charlestown/East Boston.

Charlestown and East Boston were chosen because segments of these two communities are already prone to flooding and in 50 years, if climate change continues, will experience more coastal and inland flooding as sea levels rise.

McCandless said we’re expecting to see about 4 inches of sea level rise by 2070. So in the next 50 years, if we don’t intervene by adapting to climate change impacts and coordinating climate change impacts by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions there will be more flood entry points into the neighborhoods. These low lying areas in the neighborhood are more susceptible to flooding, both during extreme weather events, such as hurricanes or rain events, but also gradual sea level rise. Some of these entry points are issues now whereas others will become an issue over time.

McCandless said the city’s aim with the project is to look at the temporal nature of climate change impacts between now and 2070 and what the flooding scenarios will look like over time in different situations.

McCandless said the Climate Ready Charlestown/East Boston project is specifically looking at coastal solutions along the waterfront in Boston and building a more resilient Boston.

The Phase II study in Charlestown will examine areas of the Charlestown coastline not addressed during the Phase I study in 2017. The study area wraps the Charlestown waterfront from approximately the base of the Lower Mystic Greenway on Medford Street, around the Boston Harbor Autoport and Little Mystic Channel, along the Navy Yard and historic Charlestown waterfront to the Charles River Dam and up New Rutherford Avenue.

In consultation with the Climate Ready Boston team, the project team developed draft “intention statements” to help center the project on common ground and ensure that the team, community members, and project stakeholders are frequently reminded of the project’s overarching goals and areas of focus. These statements will be further refined with the project’s Community Advisory Boards and with other community members.

Throughout Phase II planning the City will work closely with the community to co-develop a series of layered flood defense and coastal adaptation approaches that provide protection from rising sea levels and storm surges.

With help from Charlestown residents the City will draw on prior planning and local knowledge to propose buildable projects and responsive policies and programs with lasting social, environmental, and economic benefits.

The City will then produce a coastal resilience roadmap that protects and creates value for the Charlestown community.

At the workshop it was shown that significant Charlestown portions of its water-adjacent areas are filled with land, which is now most vulnerable. The area along Mystic River and Little Mystic Channel, which was filled to serve waterfront industries, is expected to see high-frequency flooding in the future. Once ideas and solutions are hatched out by residents the City hopes to  reduce the volume of flood waters entering the Phase II study areas.

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