Blog #4 Rising Waters:Implications and Actions

As Professor Angelo Spillo and I begin to conclude our research, we are thrilled with the progress we have made this far. Rising Waters: Implications and Actions is a project serving us well that has opened our eyes to the vulnerability that the southern New York coastal region is exposed to.

This research project focused briefly on the coastal municipalities of Westchester County and mainly the coast of New York City, two very highly populated areas in New York. Several months ago when we were roughly half way through our research, there were many municipalities in Westchester County that professor Spillo and I had reached out to in hopes of determining their plans to protect the coastline from rising waters. At this point in our research we have received feedback from most of the municipalities that we originally reached out to, which brings us much closer to the overall status of Westchester County.

Our Current status of New York City’s plans to defend against rising waters remains as thorough research. We stated in our last blog that former Mayor Bloomberg had proposed a $19.5 billion plan to protect New York City against rising waters and higher intensity storms and also that we were in the process of sending the current Mayor, Bill de Blasio a letter explaining our research and asking a few questions about the plan to help us further our research. This letter has not been responded to as of this time although we hope we will receive a response in the future. We are understanding of his and his representatives positions and the great responsibility they face, therefore we have done extensive research on any and all plans that exist or are being proposed to help mitigate and/or prevent the damage that rising waters will create.

 

Currently in New York City, Bloomberg’s nearly $20 Billion plan is not the only plan set in motion to address this issue of rising waters as professor Spillo and I have uncovered additional projects as well. Resilient Neighborhoods is a project where the Department of City Planning will work with communities to help them withstand and recover from future storms and climate events. The 2014 Hazard Mitigation Plan will identify and assess risks from disasters and provide strategies to reduce their impacts. Sustainable Communities Climate Resilience Studies has provided ways to help NYC and other urban waterfront communities to improve their resilience to coastal flood risks and promote livable, sustainable neighborhoods.  In addition to these three projects, also in action are the Flood Resilience Zoning Text Amendment, The NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, The Waterfront Revitalization Program, DCP Green Initiatives and more.

 

At this point in our research, as we begin to gather our findings, professor Angelo Spillo and I believe we have of course learned a lot, but we also believe that we have encountered many dead ends, many successes and at times weren’t sure the best way to approach our dilemmas. We are very pleased with our progress so far and we are also very excited to present it at the showcase in May, however I have realized that conducting extensive research about a major topic can have its road bumps. Granted the result of this project is the major winner, I have still learned that conducting research takes time and requires change of direction in many cases. For example, we were not able to receive direct feedback in several situations as we had planned, making it difficult to further our research. However, we still were able to figure out a way to advance our findings and make our research work wonderfully. I believe this research has impacted me in a completely positive way. Even when we had to come up with solutions to our problems, this experience was nothing but beneficial to me. Whether it was evolving my skills, working with a great mentor, or just simply learning the topic and the process of conducting research, I am grateful for the experience and all that came with it.

 

Blog #3 Rising Waters: Implications and Actions

Moving forward with our research for Rising Waters: Implications and Actions, we are currently reflecting our progress since the Fall and what else we must do in order to move closer to our goal. Before winter break, Professor Angelo Spillo and I uncovered a $19 Billion dollar plan proposed by former Mayor Bloomberg, which is for the purpose of protecting the city of New York against rising waters and more intense storms. We have written up a letter to send to the mayor of New York, who is now Mayor Bill de Blasio regarding this extensive proposal. We are hoping to determine the status of the current proposal and if Mayor de Blasio plans to seriously pursue the plan or not.

We have encountered several challenges and successes so far throughout the course of this research  project. We have obviously been challenged by the late start of the semester and the relentless weather so far this winter. The weather has made it difficult to meet and discuss our plan of action and progress. In addition to this, the most prominent challenge this far would have to be the lack of responses we have gotten from individual municipalities regarding the issue of rising waters. Although we have received feedback from several municipalities, we are definitely motivated to find out more. As we continue with our research, we are consistently reaching out to municipalities in order to gain as much information regarding their plans as possible. Aside from the challenges, we have had great success as well. Our progress is great and our findings are coming together well. We have received helpful information regarding our research and we are very excited to present this issue considering its importance to everyone who lives in this highly populated, coastline region, or any coastline region for that matter.

At this point in the project, I have learned that extensive research is no easy task, especially when looking for real world sources. It can be challenging at times, but it is still possible and definitely worth it. While, I always knew that rising waters was a serious issue, I never understood the severity of it fully until I conducted research about it. I have also never been so nervous about an issue as I have learned that the plans for protecting the coast are not significant enough to save us, at least this far into the research. We are still waiting for many more responses and Angelo Spillo and I are beyond excited to gather our findings and educate others about not only the dangers of rising waters but also what is or isn’t being done to protect us from it.

Blog #2: Rising Waters: Implcations and Actions

As professor Angelo Spillo and I continue our research regarding rising waters, we are gaining further insight into the possible actions that are being proposed to help minimize the impact of rising waters in New York City. While Westchester County is a densely populated area that sits very close to sea level, we are still taking time to reach out to the Westchester communities in hopes of determining what proposed actions are being set out against the threat of rising waters.

As for New York City, we have recently uncovered a nearly 20 billion dollar plan that has been proposed by former Mayor Bloomberg over summer 2013.  While Bloomberg was in office, he was dedicated to warning people about the higher storm tides that are frequently engulfing the waterfront. His extensive plan includes defense mechanisms, such as new flood walls, storm barriers and upgrades to communication and power infrastructures. His plan includes natural buffers as well, such as using “sand dunes and plantings”, and “building up beaches” to help prevent flooding. Considering the city of New York is home to roughly 8 million people, Bloomberg also aims to put funds towards subway, transit, sewer, water, healthcare, energy and food distribution systems to ensure they run well into the future considering they are fragile and very important functions that hold the city together. Other aspects of the plan include creating more resilient buildings and devising a plan to have more accessible energy sources, such as fuel.

While Mayor Bloomberg is no longer in office, we are currently attempting to determine when this plan will be put into action, what the highest priorities of the plan are and whether or not people who live in floodplains will have to be relocate and if so to where.

This information regarding New York City is only a portion of what we hope to be the finished result. We are continuing our research and plan to have our final report published for the purpose of increasing awareness and encouraging even more actions of the local areas that are dealing with the threat of rising waters. We expect that if the public is aware of the severity of this issue, more will be done to help defend our city against it.

Blog #1: Implications of Rising Waters

“Implications of Rising Waters” is a research project that will focus on plans that are being proposed by towns/municipalities in Westchester County and New York City to help minimize the threat of rising waters. Given that the sea level is rising and we are seeing higher intensity storms more frequently, the threat of flooding in these coastal areas is significant. The purpose of this research project is to determine if there are adequate plans in place for the inevitable event of rising waters. We will study these plans and develop an informative report focusing on what Westchester County and New York City have planned to protect their valuable coastlines. This research is an ongoing project that we began this past summer. We have reached out to many of the municipalities that make up the coastline of Westchester County already. While not all of them have responded, many of them did and provided us with a good basis of what coastline communities are think and planning.

In the continuation of this project, we plan to extend our research into New York City, a major target for rising waters considering the city lies at sea level. Throughout this research, we will study the level of threat that rising waters poses in theses highly populated areas and our goal is to inform people in these areas about the severity of the issue and that preparing for it is very important.

This problem of rising waters is very near and dear to me as New York is my home and I would hate to see the economy and many lives damaged because of this problem. As an environmental studies major in college, I am exposed to these types of environmental issues all of the time and it is my goal to help other people by educating them on how serious of a threat rising waters really are to this metropolitan area. Angelo Spillo and I expect to learn a lot ourselves throughout the course of this project and we plan to share our knowledge because it is very important and will be very useful to these coastline communities.

Blog #2 The Implications of Rising Waters

 

Our research project revolving around “The Implications of Rising Waters” has come a long way since the beginning. When starting this project, we had hopes of becoming knowledgeable about the severity of rising waters in Westchester County and determining which Westchester County municipalities were prepared or at least had some plans arranged to help minimize the impact of rising water levels. With thorough research, we were able to determine the projected sea level rise along the coast of New York and how these increased water levels will impact Westchester County. With our efforts to reach out to municipalities located along the Long Island Sound and the Hudson River, we were able to get good feedback regarding the issue. We initially contacted 16 different municipalities in hopes of finding out more about the plans being developed to help prepare for the very real threat that rising water poses for coastline communities. Although it was difficult to get responses from all sixteen of these municipalities, the ones we did get feedback from were quite interesting.

            Of the sixteen towns that we reached out to, ten did not respond back. Of the remaining six, three of the towns, Hastings-on-Hudson, Tarrytown, and Harrison did not have any plans prepared to take action against the threat of rising waters. The Village of Sleepy Hollow and Yonkers both had plans to incorporate concerns into the planning and building processes of their towns. The city of Yonkers has implemented a Green Building Policy for new construction and renovation of city-owned buildings, prohibiting them from being built in areas with an elevation at or below the 100-year floodplain. As for Sleepy Hollow, plans have been implemented for two new development sites on the Hudson River, where both projects will be built above the newly proposed guidelines for a 100-year flood. New Rochelle also has plans for the future threat of rising waters where the town is working to design FEMA approved sea walls, bulkheads, docks and sun deck rebuilds that will sustain future extreme tidal shifts and storms.

            In addition to the findings we were able to retrieve from the municipalities directly, there is further information we’ve obtained from careful research that leads us to believe other municipalities such as, Croton-on-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Port Chester, and Yonkers have begun to take the threat of rising waters into consideration, given they all have some sort of waterfront revitalization program in the works. Given these towns are focusing on their waterfronts, it may also mean they are considering the threat of rising waters.

            Given the data we have received, a couple of questions have come to mind. We are especially curious about the extent of these plans that several of the municipalities have claimed to be taking place. Some of these plans will not take place for another couple of years and by then, they may be modified. We are hoping that these coastline areas will develop even more plans or decide to enhance already existing ones. Our other question would be concerning the outcome of this project and if it will make the difference we hope it will. We also have plans to continue our research for this topic and to take it further into New York City.

            The greatest challenge that we encountered throughout the course of this research project would definitely be the lack of feedback from the municipalities. We anticipated that many of the towns may not respond, however we were hoping to get a few more, mainly so would could have a better estimate of how municipalities are preparing for potential rising waters. However, given the data we were able to collect, we were still able to make a good assumption of how prepared the Westchester County is for the danger rising waters pose, which is definitely a success. In addition, all of the feedback we received was very positive in which the municipalities that are involved in plans to help prevent damage from rising waters were all very eager to hear about the results of this research. This is a great sign because it means that many coastline communities understand how important this issue is and why being proactive about it is so serious.

            My learning experience throughout the course of this project has been quite beneficial. Working with Angelo Spillo was wonderful as he is a very ambitious and pleasant mentor to work with. Similar to myself, we are both devoted supporters of the environment and we wish to help others understand the importance of environmental issues, not only because it is important, but also because it will help us to live safer and healthier lives.  Throughout the course of the research I have come to the understanding that making a difference is hard and takes time, but I’ve also recognized that it is entirely possible, you just have to believe in what your doing.

            This research project has definitely impacted me in a positive way. Not only did I experience a hands on approach to performing a research project, but I’ve also gained skills that will be of great use to me in my future, especially for the continuing of this research project that will take place in the following semester. I have also found that working together with someone who believes in many of the same things as you, makes it a much better experience. We were able to collaborate effectively and therefore make our project that much stronger.

The Implications of Rising Waters

 

“The Implications of Rising Waters” will consist of research regarding Westchester County and the plans that are being proposed by towns/municipalities to help minimize the threat of rising waters. It is no secret that climate change has contributed to rising sea level and higher intensity storms. With that being said, it is important to know the danger affiliated with rising water and what possible plans there are help minimize that danger. Throughout the course of this research, we will study the severity of rising water within Westchester county and we will reach out to all coastline municipalities in hopes to find out what plans have been considered for the future, if any at all. Once we have collected all data relating to plans being proposed, we will develop an informative report that will highlight how Westchester County is planning to deal with the issue of rising waters based on the preparations being made within the county’s communities.

The biggest goal of this research will be to have our final report published for the purpose of increasing awareness and actions made within the local areas that are dealing with the threat of rising waters. Providing an informative report that will help coastline municipalities understand what their neighboring communities are doing to accomplish their specific goals is the ultimate objective. We would like for the public to understand the severity of the issue right here in Westchester and as a result hopefully generate positive feedback and an increased responsiveness to the issue where even more plans will be implemented. Additional goals of this project include receiving helpful responses from local governments regarding whether plans have been considered or not and the significance of these plans. We anticipate that many of the local municipalities will not have long-term effective plans put in place for economic reasons. However, given this foundation of shared knowledge, the issue will become more serious within the community.

There are many aspects of this projects that I expect to learn from, however I believe it is really important that I gain a finer perspective on how environmental issues are handled (or not handled). As my passion is to enter the field and help make a difference, I would like to take with me the knowledge to help increase the general importance of the environment. In addition, I expect to learn a great deal regarding the threat of rising waters and I also expect to learn how governments deal with serious issues. I believe I will gain a better understanding of how to generate a positive and supportive response to serious environmental concerns since that can be difficult to do.  

The answers to our research questions will rely heavily on the responses that we hope to receive from local governments. At this point in the study, we have e-mailed letters to about 15 coastline communities within Westchester County. Examples of a few of these communities include, Rye, New Rochelle, Briarcliff manor, and Yonkers. We are currently in the process of waiting to hear from these towns because the majority of our questions are about what each town is doing individually to defend themselves from rising water in the future. Once the plans (if any) of each municipality are determined, we can then develop a report including all of the answers to our research questions, which will provide a helpful foundation for all communities in Westchester County to take initiative or become more aware of the serious issue at hand.