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Trying to adapt to a future where Boston becomes a series of islands again

Eric Bender reports on a City Council hearing last week about what happens as seas continue to rise and storms grow more intense.



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How about Worcester?

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Too many worms.

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Seattle filled in the tideflat it was built in and covered the first story of most of the buildings.

Not because of sea level rise (although flooding was a perennial issue) - they did it so they could have flush toilets.

If they could manage such elevation of base elevation 125 years ago, then I think something similar could be done for the Inundation District.

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I like that. Very catchy!

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I long ago joked about putting together a series of postcards for a new tropical paradise resort: Visit the Seven Islands of Somerville!

Here on the Lawrence Peninsula, my current property will be waterfront around 2200.

I highly recommend the Wakeful Wanderer's Guide to New England by Jim Infantino for inspiration.

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Sea level rise potential and consequences for Boston and any other places within a few dozen feet of elevation is very much underappreciated. If I was in my 20’s I wouldn’t buy a house in an area that’s under 200’ above sea level. Once the sea level rise accelerates (currently 1/8”/year), it won’t make sense to invest and maintain infrastructure in coastal areas. Things that are supposed to last decades or centuries like tunnels or the multibillion Deer Island wastewater-treatment plant that was designed to withstand only a couple of feet of sea level rise.

From wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_level_rise It’s written citing solid sources and worth spending time reading the whole an article.

"Sea level rise since the start of the 20th century has been dominated by retreat of glaciers and expansion of the ocean, but the contributions of the two large ice sheets (Greenland and Antarctica) are expected to increase in the 21st century.[3] The ice sheets store most of the land ice (∼99.5%), with a sea-level equivalent (SLE) of 7.4 m (24 ft 3 in) for Greenland and 58.3 m (191 ft 3 in) for Antarctica.[4] "

To get a sense of how SLR could accelerate to >1"/year, one can google “Meltwater Pulse.” It happened not long ago geologically speaking.

I am going to submit these city council conversation topics to Frank Baker so that he can take a break from redistricting anguish.

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take much sea-level rise to compromise its water table. My retirement plans include moving north and inland.

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This is also becoming a problem in Massachusetts. Places like Fall River are concerned for their drinking water.

Rising seas pushing up water tables causes septic to fail, hence new sewer and well connections in places like Scituate.

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Their main reservoirs are 140 feet above sea level. They have massive amounts of protected land to the east of it and they have a shrinking population.

Scituate has bad water because they haven't invested in their water system since the 1960's and the town has grown from 11,000 then to just under 20,000 now. It is not climate change, its the town being a bunch of skinflints by not building standpipes. Do some areas get flooded, yup, but nearly all those areas have sewer.

They are building a new water treatment plant in 2023 because they just stopped thinking that a town of 20,000 isn't a crossroads town in Franklin county.

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Enough to bring it up as an issue in statewide planning meetings?

Not everyone in the area is on water supply, and some industrial users have their own wells. That's why. While the bulk of the domestic drinking water supply comes from the sources that you note, the municipality is in charge of regulating well use.

Salt intrusion leads to two issues: 1) well users might get compromised water and 2) adding more users to the water supply increases demand and costs a lot of money. Particularly if it is a large volume industrial user.

Scituate's issues with climate change do include the rising water table inhibiting sewer systems. Ditto for other coastal towns. Biking around the North and South shore I've seen entire near-water neighborhoods being put on public sewer in recent years for this reason.

But I know these things because I've been involved with the statewide climate plans ... and I hear concerns about health issues from the people responsible for these things.

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Definitely agree. People are looking at this like it's a matter of a bit of loss at the edges, but the impacts will be huge (although I'll probably be dead by then). As mentioned here the groundwater concerns are huge, but it's not just a matter of "move back a bit."

  • The tax base of Boston (and every other coastal city) will be decimated.
  • Generational wealth in this country (well, I guess in most every country nowadays) is based on the property you own. A whole lotta folks are going to suddenly go broke.
  • Very expensive to replace infrastructure will be toast -- like say a commuter rail line that runs through low lying areas all up the coast to Cape Ann, or say...an international airport.

And all of these impacts will crap all over everything else. It's really nasty. At least some places around here will still be habitable -- the same cannot be said for the southwest US, broad swaths of Africa and the mid-east and other parts of Asia that will desertify. yuck.

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