The Regional Planning Association (RPA), an urban research and advocacy organization working to improve quality of life of the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan region, recently released their report titled Under Water: How Sea Level Rise Threatens the Tri-State Region.
The report focuses not on the threat of storms but on “the gradual but relentless encroachment of ocean waters caused by climate change,” which could translate into permanent flooding conditions in our area stemming from sea level rise.
“The New York metropolitan area, with 23 million residents and some 3,700 miles of tidal coastline, faces a severe threat from sea level rise,” states the report, “yet relatively little has been done to address the inevitable permanent inundation of buildings, infrastructure and communities.”
Yesterday, WNYC Radio did a story on the report, highlighting communities with the largest numbers of people at risk—specifically naming, “Hoboken and Jersey City in New Jersey, and Oyster Bay, Hempstead, and New York City in New York.”
Hoboken, however, stands out among those communities as the one taking the most proactive measures today in the effort to mitigate the impact of sea level rise in the future.
“The RPA report makes clear that the risk we face from flooding is real and one that we must take seriously,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer, respond to an inquiry from hMAG regarding the WNYC story. Her comments came as she was heading to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to co-chair the 2016 Resilient Cities Summit—organized by the National League of Cities, Urban Land Institute, and U.S. Green Building Council.
“In addition to the $230 million Rebuild by Design project that will protect Hoboken and parts of Weehawken and Jersey City from coastal flooding, I am proud of the progress we are making to make Hoboken more resilient. We are already seeing results thanks to the recently completed second flood pump which has prevented flooding in northwest Hoboken.”
The Mayor added, “We are also under construction on Hoboken’s first resiliency park in the southwest, will be breaking ground on the second one at 7th and Jackson in a few weeks, and we are acquiring 6 acres in the northwest for a resiliency park with a million gallons of underground stormwater detention.”
Furthermore, the City of Hoboken has already installed bioswales along 1st Street and will be installing 15 rain gardens along Washington Street as construction begins on the main corridor in January. Hoboken has also hanged city code to incentivize dozens of green roofs to date on retrofitted structures, while requiring green roofs on all redevelopment/new construction projects. Hoboken City Hall actually leads by example, having installed a sustainable stormwater demonstration project using cisterns, rain gardens, permeable concrete.
IS IT ENOUGH?
The RPA report itself addresses Hoboken’s ongoing commitment to fight coastal flooding:
“The proposed project for Hoboken is squarely focused on taking a comprehensive water management approach to address flooding from periodic major storms and high tides and from periodic extreme rainfall events. It combines hard infrastructure to protect against storm surge and high tides, including berms and levees, with new green infrastructure and improvements to existing stormwater infrastructure.”
However, it goes on to say that, “The coastal protection components of the proposal are being designed for a 500-year flood event, but does not specifically discuss the permanent implications of flooding from sea level rise.
The RPA concludes that the best approach includes fighting carbon emissions, preparing communities for inevitable sea rise and implementing more and more initiatives.