Wednesday, December 1, 2010

DEC: Hudson River Communities Must Prepare for Sea Level Rise

I haven't read the whole report, but I jumped to drinking water treatment because that's the first and most important impact I would expect Esopus will deal with. Here's what the report said:

Salt water intrusion...threatens the Hudson River, which is a primary water supply source for many communities.... Saltwater intrusion could affect freshwater intakes at the Chelsea Pumping Station, Castle Point Medical Center, Poughkeepsie, Port Ewen, Highland/Town of Lloyd, Dutchess County Water Authority, and Rhinebeck.

In addition, flooding and other sea level rise impacts pose many of the same risks to drinking water treatment facilities as those that threaten other infrastructure types: corrosion, erosion and deterioration.

Water treatment plants in the coastal zone are at risk from flooding and the associated corrosion caused by salt water infiltraion. In addition to the treatment facilities themselves, the substrate for distribution pipes could be damaged by erosion and a rising groundwater table....

Costs of necessary repairs, placements and updates to New York State's water infrastructure over the next 20 years have been estimated at $38.7 billion, although estimates of the costs of modifications to respond to climate change specifically have not been developed. These costs will, however, be significant.

In my mind, the Port Ewen water treatment plant has already likely been damaged by climate change, in combination with poor runoff management. Why? Climate change is expected to produce more frequent strong storms, and it's very strong storms on the order of 100-year storms that have repeatedly caused erosion that damaged the water treatment plant.

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