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Fair,61°
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Resilience in a coastal context
by Laura Schofer

Tactics and interventions were discussed at a joint meeting of the five committees of the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program that encompasses Nassau County’s south shore including Freeport.

At the December 10 meeting held at Norman Levy Lakeside School in Merrick, Arup Consultants asked the five committees representing Baldwin, Freeport, Merrick-Bellmore, Wantagh-Seaford and the Massapequas to consider a regional approach to addressing coastal flooding and water-related issues. “We are looking for cross collaboration because many of your issues and ways to address these issues are similar,” said Arup consultant Susan Ambrosini. Arup was hired by New York state to oversee the process by which each community may submit plans to help it build resiliency to future storms.

“You have great ideas and now we need to dive deeper into planning and into strategies for implementation,” said Betsy Mallow, Deputy Director for New York Rising.

Arup Consultants said the communities could consider a variety and combination of approaches to water issues including making hard infrastructure improvements, green infrastructure improvements and building up natural systems.

“But let’s look at the natural history [of the south shore of Long Island] and how that is related to vulnerability and resiliency,” said consultant Bill Dey. “There has been a dramatic development to the population in Nassau County since the 1930s when there were 400,000 people. Today there are 1.35 million people. The U.S. Geological Survey shows there is rapid development [since the 1930s] that filled in the wetlands which provide natural protection against storms.”

Additionally, “there has been severe erosion because of increased boat usage, an increase of nitrogen and phragmites [a type of sea grass] that have shallow roots and wash away,” he said.

Finally, sea level is rising. In the last 100 years, it rose one foot and will continue to do so. However Mr. Dey could not say if that was related to climate change. “We do know that there has been long term changes in the land sinking as a rebound from the glacier’s movement.”

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