Jim Morrison, Yale Environment 360, August 5, 2019
For cities in the United States, the price of infrastructure projects to combat rising seas and intensifying storms is coming into focus — and so is the sticker shock.
where many neighborhoods have been built and recently expanded in low-lying areas, an estimated $2.4 billion will be needed over the next several decades to protect the city from flooding, one study says. That report came as the city abandoned plans to build a harbor barrier that would have cost between $6 billion and $12 billion, which researchers concluded was economically unfeasible.
In Charleston, South Carolina,
the mayor said last year that the city, which floods regularly during high tides, had an estimated $2 billion in needed drainage projects.
In Norfolk, Virginia,
the Army Corps of Engineers has recommended a $1.4 billion series of seawalls and other infrastructure to protect part of the shoreline. As with many cities, that’s just the start.
In Harris County,
home to Houston, planners say $30 billion is needed to provide protection against a 100-year flood. Hurricane Harvey, which in 2017 caused 68 deaths and $125 billion in damages in the state, was the city’s third 500-year-floodin three years.
And in New York City,
Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed a storm surge barrier and floodgates to shield parts of the city and New Jersey from rising waters. The estimated cost: $10 billion.
While the threats to these cities are growing as climate change intensifies, what is not clear is how to pay for projects needed to protect tens of millions of people and trillions of dollars of property. Conservative estimates of the capital investments needed to combat rising seas and worsening storms run into the hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming decades.
“The failure to face these costs is the next phase of climate denial. We’ve got to look at this squarely and figure out how to pay for it.”
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