Report Identifies Risk, Helps Boston Property Owners Prepare for Sea Level Rise, Coastal Flooding

  Report Identifies Risk, Helps Boston Property Owners Prepare for Sea Level
                            Rise, Coastal Flooding

Study by The Boston Harbor Association provides recommendations on how
property owners, public agencies can prepare for up to six feet of sea level
rise by 2100

PR Newswire

BOSTON, Feb. 5, 2013

BOSTON, Feb. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Boston Harbor Association today
released Preparing for the Rising Tide, a report detailing Boston's
vulnerabilities to rising sea levels and describing how commercial property
owners and public agencies can prepare for predictions of sea levels higher
than today's by up to two feet by 2050 and up to six feet by 2100.

Had Hurricane Sandy's storm surge hit Boston five and a half hours earlier at
high tide, instead of at low tide, the city would have experienced a "100-year
coastal flood," that could have flooded approximately 6 percent of its land
area, including portions of every coastal neighborhood and the Harbor
Islands.Once sea level rises five feet—which could possibly occur before
2100— Boston will experience this "100-year coastal flood" as the twice-daily
high tide. At that sea level, even a moderate storm surge of 2.5 feet could
result in more than 30% of Boston flooding, with East Boston experiencing the
most extensive flooding.

The report's authors include leading climate scientists, who developed case
studies describing how property owners on Boston's Central and Long Wharves
and the UMass Boston campus can assess and decrease their vulnerability to
coastal flooding over time. Building on the City of Boston's Climate Action
Plan and developed in coordination with many of Boston's coastal commercial
property owners and members of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission, the report
also makes broader recommendations for accelerating Boston's preparedness for,
and resilience to, rising sea levels and coastal flooding.

"It was sobering to realize how climate change is already putting Boston's
waterfront at risk," said Vivien Li, president of The Boston Harbor
Association. "Hurricane Sandy was a wake-up call. This report helps turn
apprehension into tangible actions for businesses and government."

Coastal flooding can be devastating to both buildings and
infrastructure—damaging equipment, causing public health and environmental
problems and resulting in loss of use for extended periods of time. The Mass
Bay Transit Authority's Aquarium Station entrance, for example, lies only 2.5
feet above today's average high tide. It may need to be either raised or moved
soon after 2050 to avoid frequent tidal flooding. Several of Boston's large
properties essential to regional commerce may also be at risk of increased
storm flooding soon after 2050: Logan Airport, the Boston Convention and
Exhibition Center, the Seaport World Trade Center and the Conley container
port terminal. Other large at-risk properties include the New England
Aquarium, Harvard Stadium and the Bayside Expo Center.

The report was released at a joint press conference at which Boston Mayor
Thomas M. Menino announced a new climate preparedness agenda for city
agencies, including convening a Cabinet-level Climate Preparedness Task Force.
Mayor Menino asked the Boston Green Ribbon Commission—an advisory group of
business and civic leaders—to recommend actions the private sector can take to
increase climate change preparedness, and identify ways the City of Boston can
support those efforts.

"This report shows us where we stand and what more we need to do in preparing
for the effects of climate change and rising sea levels in Boston," Mayor
Thomas M. Menino said. "I look forward to the work ahead with Boston
residents, our business community, and The Boston Harbor Association, as we
continue to make Boston as resilient as possible."

Bryan Koop, senior vice president and regional manager at Boston Properties,
said, "As an owner of coastal commercial real estate properties, it's
important to Boston Properties to be able to plan for the future and to make
cost-effective improvements that will reduce our facilities' susceptibility to
flooding damage."

Among the report's recommendations:

  oAll property owners in Boston on or near the coastal floodplain should
    take cost-effective actions to reduce their vulnerability to higher and
    more frequent flooding. The report provides examples of how time-phased
    preparedness plans can be developed.
  oPublic agencies and the private sector should work together to identify
    and remove obstacles and disincentives to preparedness action by private
    property owners.
  oThe City should work closely with other public agencies and utilities to
    protect critical infrastructure (highways, public transit, electrical
    grid), for the region and its citizens.

For the executive summary and full report, visit: 

Founded in 1973, The Boston Harbor Association has been instrumental in
promoting the clean-up of Boston Harbor and in ensuring waterfront public
access and public amenities along the harbor. TBHA is dedicated to addressing
the challenges of climate change for a vibrant Boston waterfront.

SOURCE The Boston Harbor Association

Contact: Vivien Li, +1-617-835-3635,; Emily Dahl,
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