Great Lakes
Cailin Crowe

MW - Cities along Great Lakes will need $2B to address coastal damage: survey

Cities, villages and other jurisdictions along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River face nearly $2 billion in costs over the next five years to address coastal damage driven by climate change, per survey results released last week by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI).

Dive Brief:

  • Cities, villages and other jurisdictions along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River face nearly $2 billion in costs over the next five years to address coastal damage driven by climate change, per survey results released last week by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI).
  • According to survey responses, 95% of city officials say they’re highly or moderately concerned about coastal damage and 99% said there has been a consistent or increasing public interest in the issues. However, only 27% of respondents said their staff was highly knowledgeable on coastal issues and just 11% said they had a “high level of capacity” to respond to coastal problems.
  • Jonathan Altenberg, executive director of the Initiative, said the survey results should send a message to federal legislators as they debate a comprehensive infrastructure plan that could direct more money and ease policy around coastal issues. "These are big issues, there’s a lot of infrastructure at risk here," Altenberg said.

Dive Insight:

Climate change has warmed water in the Great Lakes, contributing to greater fluctuations between typical seasonal shifts in water levels. Record-high water levels in recent years have contributed to flooding and more intense storms, which in turn erode shorelines and damage coastal infrastructure like roads, bridges and docks. On the other hand, low water levels can impact ship traffic and render some beaches and marine infrastructure useless, and can create potential sewage and wastewater problems.

Walter Sendzik, the mayor of St. Catharines, Ontario, and chair of the Cities Initiative, said in a statement that the abnormal ebb and flow "are leading to greater erosion and flooding that threaten public and private properties, critical infrastructure, and recreation and tourism amenities in shoreline communities."

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