NYC flooding (Flickr)

NY - $52B New York City storm surge project needs an overhaul: Riverkeeper

A $52 billion storm surge protection project proposed for New York City that includes a series of flood gates in the New York Harbor needs an overhaul to address a broad spectrum of flooding sources that could inundate the city and surrounding environs.

Critics say the proposal by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) primarily focuses on flood surge from major storms such as Hurricane Sandy. The plan needs also to account for the impact of issues such as heavy rain, higher sea level rise and compound flooding.

“This is a much more complicated problem,” says Tracy Brown, president and Hudson Riverkeeper, a group whose mandate is to protect and restore the Hudson River and its tributaries in New York City from their source to the Atlantic Ocean.

Brown likens the USACE’s “very narrow mandate…to trying to fit a square peg into a round or lumpy flabber-shaped hole. There is so much complexity in what we have to address in the region here related to our flooding.”

Brown and others presented a case for the Corps to rethink its proposal at a webinar hosted by Riverkeeper recently in New York.

The USACE’s tentative plan called Alternative 3B was selected over five options.

It consists of a combination of barriers, floodwalls, levees, pumps, nonstructural measures and natural features.

A public comment period on the proposal is being conducted until March 7.

Brown told the webinar audience the Corps should focus first on nature-based infrastructure, followed incrementally by gray infrastructure.  

While lobby efforts were successful in making legislative change that requires the Corps to broaden its study perspective beyond just storm surge, the changes have not been reflected in the current plan, she points out.

The Corps’ proposal calls for 12 storm surge barriers across the mouths of waterways including Jamaica Bay and Flushing Creek where they flow into the New York Harbor.

Read more.