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.