Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Global warming prompts new rules for Rhode Island coastal development

Providence Journal (Rhode Island):…A team of planners and scientists working on a new coastal-management plan for the Providence metropolitan area is proposing regulations that will require many buildings to be built on pilings and raised higher, depending on the expected life of the building.

The regulations will be based on an anticipated sea-level rise of 3 to 5 feet during the next 90 years, but they would be amended if new science shows the seas are rising higher and faster. “We already have a vast investment in infrastructure that’s in places at risk,” said Grover Fugate, executive director of the state’s Coastal Resources Management Council. The new rules will seek to avoid putting even more infrastructure such as bridges, roads and sewers at risk.

…At a meeting yesterday of representatives from various state agencies as well as the cities in the metropolitan area — Providence, East Providence, Pawtucket and Cranston — there were no objections to 14 new policies and actions that the CRMC will be asked to approve after a public hearing in May. The coastal management team is recommending:

•Adopting an increase in the required first-floor elevation for new and improved structures in high hazard areas along the coast.

•Creating a standard method for determining whether improvements to buildings damaged by storms amount to more than 50 percent of the size or the value of the building — a determination that would force the owner to comply with more stringent, and expensive, building standards.

•Establishing a plan to remove debris that a storm would bring up the Bay and dump on the shores of East Providence and Providence.

•Tightening standards for structures built in so-called A-zones, where only minor wave damage would be expected.

….Another concern is increasing storm intensity, Fugate said. He said one study found that Rhode Island’s storm-water infrastructure is 25 to 30 percent undersized to handle water from intense storms….

Providence city hall, US Federal government photo, Wikimedia Commons

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