Conference Brief: Protecting New York and New Jersey from Future Disastrous Storm Surges

 Protecting New York and New Jersey from Future Disastrous Storm Surges Conference Brief 2017-05-18 Metropolitan NY-NJ Storm Surge Working Group National Institute for Coastal & Harbor Infrastructure [1] Frontispiece: flooding map resulting from Super Storm Sandy, 29 October 2012 [2]  (courtesy WNYC) I. Background  The World Economic Forum has declared that the largest threat to More »

Summary of Proceedings of the NY-NJ-LI Storm Surge Barrier Conference

Marriott Downtown Hotel, New York May 18, 2017 On May 18, 2017, the National Institute for Coastal and Harbor Infrastructure (NICHI) and the Metro New York-New Jersey Storm Surge Working Group (SSWG) convened a day-long conference, “Keeping the Water Out and the Lights On” at the Marriott Downtown Hotel in Lower Manhattan. The conference co-sponsors More »

Presentations from “Keeping the Water Out and the Lights On”

The following presentations were given during the NICHI conference, “Keeping the Water Out and the Lights On: The Option for a New York-New Jersey Regional Storm Surge Barrier.” The conference was held in New York City on May 18, 2017. The Impact of rising sea levels and storm surge in the New York-New Jersey Metropolitan More »

Conference Brief: Protecting New York and New Jersey from Future Disastrous Storm Surges

 Protecting New York and New Jersey from Future Disastrous Storm Surges

Conference Brief 2017-05-18
Metropolitan NY-NJ Storm Surge Working Group
National Institute for Coastal & Harbor Infrastructure [1]

Frontispiece: flooding map resulting from Super Storm Sandy, 29 October 2012 [2]  (courtesy WNYC)

I. Background

 The World Economic Forum has declared that the largest threat to human civilization and the cause of most anxiety is the failure worldwide to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change[3]. The fourth anniversary last October of Superstorm Sandy and the associated catastrophic damage, destruction and human misery that resulted is a reminder that the greater New York Metropolitan area (specified here to include northern New Jersey, western Long Island and western Connecticut) continues to be largely exposed to future megastorms.

In fact, the threat grows greater with every passing year due to the expected increase in frequency and severity of extreme storm events, exacerbated by rising sea levels along the eastern seaboard. More than a million residents live at risk from storm surges in communities that are located in the floodplains of the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, the south shore of western Long Island and many low-lying communities in New Jersey. Some communities, such as those surrounding Jamaica Bay, have already begun to experience flooding during lunar spring tides, even in settled weather.

Summary of Proceedings of the NY-NJ-LI Storm Surge Barrier Conference

Marriott Downtown Hotel, New York May 18, 2017

On May 18, 2017, the National Institute for Coastal and Harbor Infrastructure (NICHI) and the Metro New York-New Jersey Storm Surge Working Group (SSWG) convened a day-long conference, “Keeping the Water Out and the Lights On” at the Marriott Downtown Hotel in Lower Manhattan.

The conference co-sponsors included the Port Authority of NY & NJ, Regional Plan Association, New Jersey Future, The Waterfront Alliance, Cameron Engineering and Associates, Chelsea Piers, Waterside Plaza, Manhattan Borough President, The Alliance for Downtown New York, the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association, Stony Brook University, Columbia University, and Society for American Military Engineers, Howard Hughes Corp., Standard and Poors, Goldman Sachs and others.

The conference focused on the urgent need to investigate the role that a regional system of movable surge barriers could play in creating layered defense to protect the metropolitan area from storm surges and sea level rise. This system would be designed to work in tandem with planned local barriers and other strategies.

Presentations from “Keeping the Water Out and the Lights On”

The following presentations were given during the NICHI conference, “Keeping the Water Out and the Lights On: The Option for a New York-New Jersey Regional Storm Surge Barrier.” The conference was held in New York City on May 18, 2017.

The Impact of rising sea levels and storm surge in the New York-New Jersey Metropolitan Area: Sandy and Post Sandy
Professor Malcolm Bowman, Stony Brook SUNY SoMAS

The History and Evolution of a NY and NJ Metro Regional Surge Barrier System Option
Robert Yaro, Professor of Practice of City and Regional Planning, University of Pennsylvania, President Emeritus Regional Plan Association

Is New York City worth saving?

Storm Surge Barrier Conference: May 18, 2017

A conference on the urgent need for a New York harbor storm surge barrier took place Thursday, May 18, 2017, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm in New York. Presented by The National Institute for Coastal and Harbor Infrastructure and NY-NJ Metropolitan Storm Surge Working Group, co-sponsors included the Port Authority of NY & NJ; The Regional Plan Association (RPA); NJ Future; The Waterfront Alliance: Cameron Engineering & Associates; Chelsea Piers, Waterside Plaza, Borough President Gale Brewer; The Alliance for Downtown New York; The Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association; Columbia Law School Sabin Center; Stony Brook SUNY; and the Society of American Military Engineers.

Military mission and sea level rise

A September, 2016 report concludes that sea level rise at coastal military installations will present serious risks to military readiness, operations and strategy.  The report, Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission, is available from the Center for Climate and Security.

“For the United States to remain strong and ready, we must ensure that our military and federal first responder capabilities can withstand and adapt to sea level rise,” said Vice Admiral Rob Parker, U.S. Coast Guard (ret). “There isn’t a region in the world where rising seas don’t affect our military readiness and operations, and complicate our ability to do our job.  For our Coast Guard this is particularly true as they are embedded in the communities they serve and doubly impacted at home and at work.”

NICHI seeks better storm protection

nycgateway

Design concept for the New York Outer Harbor Gateway Storm Barrier.

The National Institute for Coastal and Harbor Infrastructure believes that the failure to seriously consider regional infrastructure options,  such as a NY-NJ moveable surge barrier, could have far reaching national policy implications regarding our national coastal resiliency.

 The issue is particularly important since the Army Corps of Engineers is currently initiating a study of regional options, but has not yet indicated whether movable regional surge barriers would be included as a specific option to be studied within the scope of this program.

Also, it should be noted that NYC and other metropolitan NY-NJ  coastal communities in the metropolitan area are now actively pursuing the design and construction of highly localized barrier systems that would leave unprotected large dense, often poor, urban populations, critical infrastructure and high value economic assets.  

Infrastructure spending

Bloomberg View, Sept. 16, has a terrific article on infrastructure spending:

The big guns are coming out in the battle over infrastructure spending. Larry Summers, a celebrated Harvard economist and veteran policy adviser, has a new article making the case for spending more. Ed Glaeser, a brilliant and versatile colleague of Summers’ who studies urban economics, has an article making the opposite case.

Lightship Lecture in NY Harbor

In a post-Sandy world, regional solutions are important contributions to national priorities, according to Commander Russ Bowman of the US Coast Guard Academy, who spoke at a Lightship Lecture in September, 2016.

The lecture was entitled “Rising Sea Levels, Extreme Storms and Aging Infrastructure,” and was held Monday, September 26, 2016 on the Nantucket Lightship at Pier 6 in Brooklyn, NY.

NJ – NY storm surge group formed

Mission Statement

The Metro NY-NJ Storm Surge Working Group on is an affiliation of professionals dedicated to the premise that the future protection of the greater Metropolitan Region against catastrophic flooding from ocean storm surges, climate change and rising sea levels can only be secured by a regional approach that transcends geographical and political boundaries. The region of consideration includes New York City, northern New Jersey, the lower Hudson River Valley and south-western Long Island. These interconnected regions are all especially vulnerable due to their low elevations above sea level, their densely developed urban infrastructure and the large populations at risk.