The Resilient Quincy pilot project resulted in the creation of a municipal-wide vulnerability assessment focused on coastal neighborhoods subject to sea level rise. The project included the first-time use of the Boston Harbor Flood Risk Model in a municipal setting. The analysis resulted in the determination of potential sea level-related coastal flooding depths and probability of flooding for the annual 100-year storm. The project also featured a community-wide engagement program.
Quincy, Massachusetts is the largest city in Norfolk County, located just south of Boston. Its eastern coastal exposure and coastal development patterns influence the city’s high vulnerability to sea level rise and flooding. The Resilient Quincy project began as a pilot to utilize a hydrodynamic model to determine coastal vulnerabilities in an urban setting. It later became a testing ground for communication regarding climate vulnerabilities to municipal officials and the general public. The project was funded in part by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management Coastal Resiliency Grant and state-level funding to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.
The project used the Boston Harbor Flood Risk Model (BH-FRM) to evaluate vulnerabilities. BH-FRM uses sea level rise projections to simulate flooding and incorporates variables such as topography, storm surge, and wave action. The model was created by the Woods Hole Group, UMass Boston, and the University of New Hampshire through the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Resilience Pilot Project to determine vulnerabilities of the Central Artery/Harbor Tunnel project. This analysis helped planners determine flood risk probabilities and at-risk locations.
The project team designed a community engagement program, inclusive of an initial kick-off meeting, a public forum, and the convening of a municipal working group. The program later included additional community-based meetings, working with Boston University Urban Affairs Masters’ students to conduct a vulnerable populations’ analysis and a final forum to present findings. The vulnerability assessment was conducted in tandem with the engagement process, and included working with scientists from the Climate Ready Boston research advisory group for data consistency. The resulting draft assessment and action plan with recommendations for adaptation measures was received by the City in 2016.
Outcomes and Conclusions
The primary lessons learned on this pilot surrounded communication. Unfortunately, it appeared that a lack of involvement from the higher levels of government resulted in a lack of departmental support for implementation of the recommended actions. Additionally, confusion arose at the mayoral level with respect to the extent of the City's projected vulnerabilities. These challenges can be overcome, however a local champion for the action plan must reintroduce the subject matter in order for political will to transpire.
Conroy J. (2019). Resilient Quincy. Ed. Rachel M. Gregg. [Case study on a project of the Quincy Department of Planning and Community Development and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council]. Retrieved from CAKE: https://www.cakex.org/case-studies/resilient-quincy (Last updated May 2019)
Julie Conroy, AICP
Senior Environmental Planner