Climate Change is Here. Is Local Government Ready?

Hurricane Dorian Seen From Aboard the Space Station. Source: Nasa
Hurricane Dorian Seen From Aboard the Space Station. Source: Nasa

Climate Change will likely bring record breaking heat waves, severe rain storms, powerful hurricanes, typhoons, tornadoes and cataclysmic firestorms - all of them leaving damaged infrastructure in their wake. Extreme weather events are recurring with greater frequency and veracity each year. In 2018 alone, Southeast Texas; the state of Florida; the island of Puerto Rico; Alaska and Northwest British Columbia; Southern Oregon, Montana and Northern California; three North Bay counties and Southern California were all directly affected by extreme events[1]. As people all over the United States and the world respond to the new normal of extreme weather, how should local governments respond?

Today, local governments face a broader set of challenges than they did just a few years ago. They are confronting stagnant local economies, increased needs for housing, water and infrastructure. And they are finding out that communities aren’t immune to the challenges of climate change either. We are seeing  flooding happening in the same places every day, and this is becoming routine in urban areas. Increasingly, local governments are being called upon to take more action to address extreme weather events, and that is precisely what they should do – take action to prevent the impacts, and, where needed, mitigate the impacts. Municipalities that are unable to build and maintain infrastructure to resist and survive these extreme weather events risk eventually becoming unlivable.

As the impacts of climate change begin to wreak havoc across major metropolitan areas, increasing access to information, research and aid for localities is critical.

Here are five things every municipality should be doing to prepare for the challenges and threats that come with changing weather patterns:

1) Complete an integrated climate change plan

Cities must update their climate change plan to present a coordinated, inclusive plan for dealing with climate change and incorporating sustainable solutions to protect assets, residents and businesses. Some of the more ambitious and resource-intensive projects included in cities’ climate change plans should be encouraged and funded through public-private partnerships.

2) Build Local Resilience to Climate Change

When natural disasters strike, ordinary citizens often ask, how can we help? One way leaders can answer that question is to support local partnerships between nonprofits and municipalities that help to prepare residents for and assist after any devastating event. By supporting partnerships with local non-profits and support groups, local government can indirectly help people and businesses. Through such programs, people are provided assistance after disasters, and are also able to share ideas for common repairs and precautions to better protect their communities.

3) Develop local stormwater management plan

For coastal areas, stronger waves and stronger winds mean stronger storms, and as cities continue to grow in population, with more cars per capita, coastal areas are seeing higher and higher average storm totals each year. When storms produce record-breaking high wind gusts that damage and destroy large segments of infrastructure, municipalities must begin to better manage the stormwater that flows off their roads and buildings. This isn’t as simple putting up more catchment areas; a better approach would include studying and mapping critical locations where traditional  approaches might not be effective, to further refine the design of solutions.

4) Capitalize on opportunities presented by climate change

As the impacts of climate change become more pronounced, decision makers must ensure that they don’t overlook the opportunities for addressing climate change challenges with a variety of innovative climate solutions, and from an economic perspective. Local governments should examine climate change cost-saving opportunities, use government purchasing programs to maximize what taxpayers currently spend on public goods and services and capitalize on state government programs that are more effective and flexible in addressing climate change.

5) Place communications  infrastructure underground.

A study from the municipal city of Berkeley, California, makes a clear and compelling case for undergrounding infrastructure. The study concluded that rebuilding the City’s utility infrastructure underground would not only protect the community from the ill effects of downed overhead wires from severe weather events, disasters, vehicle collisions, and other causes of wire sparking and power failures, but would also mitigate the loss of power and communications, through thoughtful design. The research  shows that underground power and communications infrastructure can deliver services to communities far faster than traditional surface installations and that it can provide the same benefits as standard systems at a fraction of the cost.

Municipalities and businesses alike must take note of the  increasing frequency of catastrophic Category 5 Hurricanes heading for the East Coast of the United States.  Now is the time to get serious about smart backup power supplies. InfraSite Solutions has the only in-ground, smart, safe, reliable, and secure backup battery power plant to keep critical first responders, emergency communications and traffic infrastructure up and running after a major storm event. Please give us a call or visit us at www.infrasite.com

 

 


[1] Conceptual Study for Undergrounding Utility Wires in Berkeley; Ray Yep et al.,  https://www.berkeleyside.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/2018-02-20-WS-Item-03-Conceptual-Study-for-Undergrounding.pdf

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