Sunday, September 10, 2017

Smart Communities Dealing with Climate Adaptation

As we watched the Hurricane Irma reach category 5 status and literally suck the water near Bahama's shore lines, the force of mother nature was clearly demonstrated. What it means when over 10 ft of water comes on land as" ocean surge" in Naples area shore line is not imaginable.

The damage caused by "Irma" may exceed hurricane Harvey which came to Houston Texas about a week ago. Unfortunately, this is the reality of new Climate future where Communities have to deal with repairing damage and then plan what to do to prevent or reduce it in future.

When it comes to Climate, the word " change" is advisable to be NOT mentioned to any Municipal Government official,  if we want to avoid political discussions. What sense does it make to argue about who caused the current extreme climate events. It is lot easier to shift the focus on the word "adaptation" and try to implement Climate smart solutions.

Smart communities can learn from the recent climate related experiences in Texas and Florida and plan about preventive approaches that apply to their local conditions. Existing Infrastructure assessment should be undertaken to identify what retrofits should be made to reduce and prevent future damage. Storm water management with Green measure can help conserve water and prevent flooding. Energy is another sector that becomes critical to sustain when power fails and so many homes are inconvenienced. Time has come to for achieving energy resiliency by building solar power farms with energy storage batteries to help maintain power during Utility grid failures.

 We are lucky in New York State where Climate Smart Communities are given incentives and grants
 to finance renewable energy systems and qualify for many improvements to help the community. The role for Municipal engineering firms is now to focus on Climate adaptation strategies and help small Towns and Villages take the pledge for Climate Smart community designation and start strategic planning as soon as possible. Economic development of these communities will depend on building infrastructure improvements necessary to adapt to the new realities of extreme climate events.

 Nature is not bound by politics or geographic boundaries. Smart leaders would think about what is best for their tax payers and how to reduce the costs of operation and the risks of Climate related damages.

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