Dec 14, 2023
I had a great conversation with Katy and Gina, co-hosts of Resiliency Hour on WBLQ Radio 103.1 FM. We covered:
- The big-picture climate resiliency challenges in our area (for example, 23% of Westerly is in the 100-year flood plain – color-coded in green, blue, and pink in this map)
- How the federal government subsidizes people to live in risky areas by subsidizing flood insurance
- What’s at stake with our vulnerable habitats (salt marsh, barrier beaches) if they cannot migrate in response to sea level rise
– What can be done?
- Bring up these issues with your Town Council and Local Planning/Zoning Board because they are in charge of planning which areas are appropriate or inappropriate for future development, using flood hazard maps like this one. One challenge is that towns have a financial incentive to approve developments that expand their tax base. As a counterpoint, towns are also realizing quickly that they are facing increasing costs to maintain the infrastructure they need to service homes and businesses in flood hazard areas (roads that get washed out, utilities, etc).
- At the state level, we can mobilize our state agencies and have a comprehensive, actionable plan that incorporates federal, state, and town efforts (read more about Representative Spears’ and Senator Gu’s 2024 bill: Act on Coasts and email your reps and senators asking them to support it!)
After the ad break, we also talked about:
- Water quality issues: stormwater run-off over the summer led to some closures of smaller ponds in our area
- Drought issues in the summer and saltwater intrusion from sea level rise: Underground aquifers are a key source of our drinking water in southern and rural RI, for both private wells and town water