Storm Smart Planning and Climate Ready Assessments for Buzzards Bay
The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program has established this website to consolidate information, data, and assessments undertaken by the Buzzards Bay NEP and others, about the potential impacts to Buzzards Bay and its watershed from storms, shifting shorelines, rising sea level, and changes in climate and precipitation. We are providing this information, along with potential adaptation strategies, to inform and guide government officials, researchers, local managers, and the public.
On our Floodplain Maps page is an interactive map showing the latest FEMA 1% risk ("100-year storm") areas defined on their flood insurance rate maps (FIRMs). On our Floodplain Expansion page you can see how this floodplain might expand with sea level rise (1-, 2-, and 4-foot scenarios). That page also has reports we completed for each town quantifying the value of structures within those zones. Residents of Bourne and Falmouth will find the FIRM Review Tool of interest.
On our King Tides page, you can find information about the annual high tide (also called the high tide line in federal regulations) in Buzzards Bay, and its real world elevation. We also provide real-world elevations of Mean High Water on our interactive Tidal Elevations Map. This page is part of our ongoing study of the migration of the annual high tide with sea level rise (also using 1-, 2-, and 4-foot scenarios). In this study, we will characterize infrastructure that may be affected by these non-storm tides.
The high tide line happens to also coincide with the regulatory definition of the boundary of salt marshes under state regulations. In a separate study, we are using our calculated high tide line around Buzzards Bay to evaluate the potential expansion of salt marshes with sea level rise. We are particularly focused on identifying those wetland systems that have the greatest capacity to migrate unimpeded inland, and to better define areas that would be restored with the removal of existing tidal restrictions.
In our New Bedford-Fairhaven-Acushnet climate risk assessment and adaptation planning study, the Buzzards Bay NEP will hire a consultant to use the Buzzards Bay NEP's sea level rise studies, other risk studies, together with projections on potential increases in stormwater flows and storm frequency and intensity to develop a better understanding of possible impacts of climate change and potential future responses of the three municipalities. Of specific concern is how future increases of sea level, precipitation, and frequency or intensity of storms may affect public infrastructure related to water quality and habitat protection.
Finally, on our StormSmart Coasts page we explain some common sense strategies for municipalities and homeowners to plan for and minimize the impacts of future severe coastal storms when they do happen.
Because of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, nation-wide, flood insurance rates will rise for the roughly 20% of property owners nationwide whose flood insurance is subsidized by the federal government. In some areas of Buzzards Bay, a greater proportion of property owners may be affected. These changes, together with the expansion of the floodplain in some areas on the new maps will affect thousands of property owners in the region. The link below has FEMA's frequently asked questions about the changes.
Flood Insurance 2012 Reforms Information for New England