Planning for infrastructure involves assessing the impacts, effectiveness, and maintenance needs of port, harbor, and green infrastructure, including consideration and economic estimates of infrastructure vulnerability to climate change impacts.
Coastal infrastructure planning is about helping coastal communities and maritime interests understand which critical “gray” and “green” infrastructure is vulnerable to potential climate variation and hazards, as well as the potential risks and economic and environmental impacts throughout the coastal zone and uplands. Infrastructure that is considered ranges from stormwater systems and ports, harbors and marinas to green infrastructure, which unlike traditional (“gray”) infrastructure, uses natural systems to manage rainwater, mitigate flooding, improve water quality, and provide other economic and ecosystem benefits.
Communities across the country have experienced increased flooding, resulting in millions of dollars’ worth of property damage and lost business. Traditionally, cities and counties have constructed pipes, levees, pumps and storage tunnels to quickly route flooding and stormwater away from developed areas. Unfortunately, this traditional infrastructure approach is expensive, reduces groundwater recharge, and increases sediment, nutrient and pathogen loading to receiving waters.
Both rising and falling water levels can impact port and harbor structure stability and overall strength, as well as require additional, compensatory channel dredging. A climatic change resulting in an increase in the frequency and severity of storm events will also have deleterious effects on infrastructure. More severe storms can create larger waves and greater storm surges that can damage shore structures, requiring costly rehabilitation or replacement.
To help address these and other infrastructure related issues, we are providing case studies of what some communities are doing and examples of data and tools that can help. Case studies that exemplify best practices are the core of the Planning Guide, and we are continually looking to expand those offered. If you have a case study to share – or a local story that illustrates hazard or resilience issues in your community – please contact us.