For Immediate Release
March 2, 2022
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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today joined Legislator Bridget Fleming to announce $1 million dollars in County funding to support the planning and implementation of the County’s coastal resiliency efforts. Additionally, the County Executive announced the Project Advisory Committee (PAC), which will identify key areas of impact and will work to steer project development. The committee, comprised of dozens of stakeholders representing various entities across the County held its first meeting today, March 2nd. In 2019, Legislator Bridget Fleming introduced legislation to fund coastal resiliency planning efforts, and the PAC will now decide how that funding should be spent.
“Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc across Long Island and highlighted the vulnerabilities of our shoreline to extreme weather,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “It is no longer if another extreme weather event will impact our region, but rather when. This funding will allow us to move forward with critical projects that will better protect our communities from dangerous weather conditions.”
Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming said: “We are facing ever-increasing impacts to our coastal communities because of climate change. Rising sea levels and increased severe storms threaten these communities with significant economic losses through flooding, coastal erosion, and damage to our roadways and infrastructure. With this substantial investment, we have the opportunity to take bold and thoughtful action to mitigate climate change impacts with a focus on nature-based solutions. Funding this project will allow the excellent team assembled to head off future emergencies, increase public safety, reduce flooding, erosion and damage to county-owned infrastructure, and save taxpayer dollars. I am grateful to County Executive Bellone and our partners in the federal government for stepping up in this important way.”
Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski said: “When planning future infrastructure projects or improvements, we must consider the effects of seal level rise and coastal erosion, which are inevitable and complex. We face some challenging decisions in the years ahead, as we will most likely experience more intense and frequent storms in Suffolk County. I want thank County Executive Bellone for inviting me to participate in the Project Advisory Committee, and I look forward to working with my colleagues and other stakeholders.”
Building off of the County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan and the Superstorm Sandy Task Force Report, the goal of the County’s Coastal Resiliency Plan is to create a county-wide understanding of the scope, location and character of climate change impacts, including potential economic losses, and develop recommendations to protect infrastructure and mitigate such losses. Impact trends in nuisance flooding, extreme precipitation events and storm surge on properties within Suffolk County, structures, and roads are expected to increase as the frequency and severity of heavy precipitation events and coastal storms are also expected to increase due to climate change and sea level rise.
The $1 million in funding will be used for projects designed to reduce recurring capital expenses resulting from repeated flood damage, enhance waterfront access points to withstand flooding, and anticipate changes that will be necessitated due to a projected increase in frequency and severity of storm events, as well as the impacts from rising sea levels. Projects will be prioritized based on long-term cost-benefit analyses, including potential impacts on people and nature. Altogether, the County is creating a Suffolk County Resiliency Planning Handbook, a toolkit for assessing County-owned and privately-owned properties and assets alike.
The $1 million in coastal resiliency funding is coming out of the County’s Wastewater Infrastructure fund, which was created as part of the 2022 Operating Budget. The Wastewater Infrastructure Fund includes $125 million in new funding to significantly advance the County’s historic Reclaim Our Water Initiative, advance the County's response to environmental hazards, and invest in projects to improve our coastal resiliency.
The $1 million in coastal resiliency funding complements ongoing projects to protect the County’s waterways, including the County’s Septic Improvement Program, which is designed to stop and reverse nitrogen pollution by eliminating old cesspools and septic systems through the installation of Innovative Alternative, and the Suffolk County Costal Resiliency Initiative (SCCRI), which is a historic expansion of sewer infrastructure that will build three separate projects to connect nearly 6,000 parcels along the County’s south shore to sewers.
Suffolk County is home to nearly 1,000 miles of coastline, which are critical to our economy, tourism industry, and the livelihood of residents. In recent years, the adverse impacts to coastlines and coastal communities throughout Suffolk County resulting from the changing climate have increased, primarily from rising sea levels and an increasing frequency and severity of storm events. These impacts include the destruction of property and beaches, shoaling of navigation channels, flooding, degrading of wetlands, and habitat loss.