Friday , June 18 2021

How to pay for coastal resilience

This is an introduction to a three-part WaterWire series, starting from the 5th October issue, on the financing of resilience. We welcome your questions and ideas; send us tweet @OurWaterfront with #ResilientNYNJ or write to [email protected]

We have a big problem. There are a myriad of resilience projects that need funding and not enough money to go around. Likewise, there are a number of carrot-and-stick tools to improve resilience – regulations, programs, policies and incentives – but some are under-supported and some have not yet been tested.

Large-scale projects controlled by city, state and federal agencies are being planned, under construction or completed. This interactive map from the Mayor of Recovery and Resilience Office shows hundreds of multi-stage resilience projects in New York City only. In New York and New Jersey, many projects from the Rebuild by Design initiative are moving forward. And, through a study by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the potential costs and benefits of regional and large-scale approaches to a resilient New York port and its tributaries are analyzed. Yet, on the whole, the funding we have for these projects is grossly inadequate. What funding mechanisms should we pursue once the right approach is determined?

Major projects will not address all risks, in all areas and at all levels. A large part of preparing for the future are individual projects on the scale of the site. These can be influenced by regulation (zoning or building code), by the awareness and practice of the landowner (eg WEDG, NYC's Climate Resilience Design Guidelines), or incentives (loan discounts, insurance rates, municipal discounts) or quotas). How and how should we change our policies, zoning practices and codes and how other cities are approaching this problem?

In the city of New York alone, more than 100,000 buildings will be exposed to flood risk by 2050. Many of these belong to individuals with few resources who have invested their savings in homes and small businesses in the floodplain, and who find it difficult to pay for flood insurance and even more difficult to pay for retrofit or find a means to relocate. What are the policies and programs that will guarantee the lifting of all boats?

Do not miss the October 5th edition of WaterWire, where we will begin to deepen "How to pay for coastal resilience".

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