As coastal communities across the nation weigh options for dealing with climate change, a rising sea and more frequent flood events, policy makers are coming around to the realization that a more holistic, longer-term view is not only necessary, but also more practical.
Buying out and moving flood threatened residents from harms way offers significant disaster recovery savings according to both FEMA and the Center for American Progress. Between 2011 and 2013 Congress spent $400 per household on relief and recovery after major disasters. The National Flood Insurance Program with a total $527 billion liability owes taxpayers $28 billion. The revenue from premiums brings in only $3.8 billion a year. The US coastal flood hazard area is expected to increase 50 percent due to global warming by 2100, thereby expanding the NFIP liability 130 percent to over a trillion dollars.
As sea levels rise over time, the coastal hazard areas will include airports, seaports, railroad yards, and cities. The expenditures for protective coastal hardened structures for these areas will dwarf what has already been experienced. Political pressure may jeopardize available funding for the recovery and relief of less populated flood hazard areas.
The expense of moving citizens and assets with buyouts usually pays off in 10 years by virtually eliminating future disaster recovery costs and taxpayer liability. Also, the natural habitat will flourish, natural storm barriers will offer greater protection, and the coastal environment will benefit.
If conservative climate change forecasts become a reality, the buyout solution may reduce capital expenditures for recovery and relief enough to make the potential tax payer burden affordable.
To read the full Center for American Progress report with details on buyout programs, please click here.
In November 2011, the Village of Quogue (assisted by First Coastal Corp.) submitted an application for a permit to dredge offshore the Quogue Beach. At an estimated cost of $15 million dollars, the project would pump and dump 1.1 million cubic yards of sand along the entire 2.7 miles of Quogue Beach.
That permit application is now complete and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has begun a 30 day “Public Comment Period” ending November 29—representing what could be the only opportunity for concerned citizens to have a voice in whether the project is approved. The CCQ urgesanyone concerned with the health of our beaches to communicate—in writing via email or letter—opinions regarding the necessity and ramifications of a project of this magnitude, and to implore the DEC to deny the permit.
Please consider the following:
Federal Funds are not available to Quogue for this project, leaving the related tax and debt burden entirely on the community
Most of Quogue’s beach is in very good shape (see photo below), as recently observed by noted coastal geologist Dr. Rob Young. Conclusion: we don’t need “beach nourishment”
Dredged sand can be washed away in a single storm, with the related debt still to be repaid
Dredging is temporary and requires additional maintenance projects to be repeated over time at additional cost (example: West Hampton Dunes)
Dredging can have a detrimental effect on the coastal ecosystem; the assumption that it doesn’t is dangerously misguided
Sand is a finite resource and should be reserved for when it is truly necessary. The proposed project will dredge a 100 acre trench 7 feet deep, from only a mile offshore.
For an excellent recent opinion of beach nourishment authored by Dr. Young, please consider this brief read in Yale Environment 360 and the following excerpt:
“Some try to put green lipstick on these dredge-and-fill projects by calling them beach restoration. But let’s be clear: Rebuilding beaches and dunes in front of buildings is not restoration; it is engineering. The beaches and dunes are not designed to maximize their effectiveness as ecosystems. They are designed for storm protection. …
Beach replenishment… is an effort to fight that natural trajectory by simply pumping sand onto a shoreline that is changing due to natural erosion or rising sea levels. Rebuilding beaches and dunes may be a ‘soft solution,’ as it is often described, but it is not restoration, nor is it environmentally benign.”
If you are opposed to this project, PLEASE WRITE to the DEC and express your views. Time is of the essence. Emails or letters must be received by November 29th.
Please include your physical address and reference the application ID: NYDEC 1-4736-01875
For those who missed CCQ’s August 17th presentation by Dr. Robert Young, we encourage you to read a brief reaction and summary of the event, Time to Take Heed, authored by Karl Grossman and published by The Southampton Press. Mr. Grossman is an award-winning journalist who has dedicated much time and ink to covering the history and current state of the East End’s beaches.
The CCQ is pleased that Mr. Grossman’s interpretation of Dr. Young’s message is consistent with ours: that the best and most cost-effective intervention to save both private property and our beaches is to relocate structures, whenever it is possible to do so.
Dr. Young stressed that the implementation of hard structures to control erosion (such as revetments, groins, seawalls, jetties and so-called “semi-hard” structures, like geo-tubes) create considerable damage to the beach. It was surprising to learn that these negative effects have been formally acknowledged by the Army Corps of Engineers, although the Corps continues to incorporate the use of many hard structures in its reformulation of the Fire Island to Montauk Point plan—a topic Mr. Grossman has covered extensively as recently as July, and stretching back far before Superstorm Sandy.
To read the full article, please click here. (Many thanks to The Press News Group for consenting to our use and reproduction of the article.)