As we prepare for yet another whopper of storm (the third in 10 days), it’s hard not to think about the impact these Nor’easters are having on our coastline. However, it’s not just the coast we should worry about—inland areas also sustain damage from flooding and other storm impacts.
It’s past time for communities and the state to implement climate resiliency measures that protect the environment, public health and safety from the effects of increasingly frequent and intense storms.
I was happy to hear last week that Governor Baker plans to file a bill to “get more aggressive” about climate change measures. He also seems willing to make sure any changes are evidence-based, acknowledging that there may be different measures applied to different vulnerabilities. And if there’s anything we need more of, it’s evidence-based policies designed to guide decisions and actions to achieve the best future outcomes.
To be fair, Governor Baker has already implemented a program to assist local communities plan and implement climate resiliency measures through its Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program. But climate resiliency isn’t an issue that can be effectively addressed town-by-town. There must be a regional approach to ensure the best preparation for climate change.
At NepRWA, virtually everything we do is an effort to improve climate change resiliency.
We advocate for better water conservation policies to increase drought resilience within our water supply systems. We work with local governments to develop and implement stronger stormwater regulations that not only reduce the chance of flooding but also to reduce water pollution. NepRWA actively pursues policies to protect land along the river that preserves floodplain storage, and works to eliminate obsolete dams that will aggravate the impact of future floods. Finally, we aggressively pursue projects that restore degraded aquatic and terrestrial habitats in ways that allow them to function as they should and make them more resistant to climate change.
As active as our members are, and as effectively as we work with municipal staff and officials, NepRWA and organizations like us can’t do this work on our own. I applaud efforts to more broadly address these issues through state or regional-level policies. I look forward to seeing the Governor’s proposal, and hope all of our elected state leaders can work together to support effective measures to protect the Commonwealth in our changing climate.
Kerry Snyder, Advocacy Director
March 12, 2018