Concord’s Goal: Concord’s critical infrastructure is designed to reduce emissions and be prepared for projected climate impacts.
This involves developing an integrated water resource management plan, updating stormwater regulations, and increasing the use of green infrastructure and low impact development.
Preparation is Key
Increasing concentrations of GHGs in the atmosphere are leading to changing climate conditions, including in temperature, precipitation, and sea level.
These changing conditions lead to increases in the frequency and intensity of hazardous events, such as heat waves, drought, flooding, and more.
How these events interact with our physical infrastructure, health and social systems, and even our homes are the impacts we feel from climate change.
Being prepared for these hazards is the best way to minimize the impacts when these events occur in the future.
An increase in intense rainfall events can overwhelm riverbanks and stormwater drainage systems, causing flash flooding and damage to property and infrastructure. Powerful precipitation runoff can also impact the health of water systems and stress infrastructure systems like stormwater pipes and culverts. Runoff can also result in greater nutrient loading in rivers and ponds, which combined with warmer water body temperatures can cause algal blooms and kills the animals living in the ocean.
The chart to the right illustrates the expected increase in storms with over 2 inches of rain within the Sudbury - Assabet - Concord (SuAsCo) river watershed.
A Strong Foundation
Roads, sidewalks, parks, schools, and other amenities are all forms of infrastructure that local governments provide to maintain a healthy and functional community. One type of infrastructure that often goes unseen are the many components of the stormwater management system.
Maintaining the systems we currently have, while also anticipating future strains from new development or larger storm events, is a critical part of forming a resilient community.
Green Infrastructure Goals
We know continued investment in infrastructure is needed to both continue present stormwater management and to adapt to a future volatile climate. As the Town makes these investments, we will look for opportunities to take advantage of natural systems through bio-retention and similar designs that mimic natural systems when managing stormwater. In turn, these green infrastructure systems will help ensure the health of the truly natural systems and keep Concord resilient.
One way to reduce the need of public stormwater infrastructure is to allow as much of it as possible to infiltrate naturally into the ground, rather than running straight to the nearest stream and potentially causing flooding. Water that infiltrates into the ground will be clean and will eventually make it to the stream from underground, keeping water flowing even during times of drought.
The permeable paver system shown in this image illustrates how we can have beautiful functional spaces that don't generate runoff in the way traditional concrete or asphalt do.
In addition to permeable surfaces, landscaping can be designed for both aesthetics and to utilize plants that enhance the capacity of drainage areas by absorbing water and filtering pollutants before it enters a natural system like our waterways.
Low Impact Development (LID)
Low Impact Development is a term that refers to the systems and practices that use or mimic natural processes that result in the infiltration, evapo-transpiration, or use of stormwater to protect water quality and associated habitats. Many of the green infrastructure strategies and designs above are examples of 'Low Impact Development', which is a common theme in Concord's approach to planning. The concept of Low Impact Development goes beyond an individual site and is an overarching strategy to ensuring the efficient use of space, but more importantly to preserve natural areas that will provide cleaner air and water for all of Concord to enjoy.
The prospect of extreme events is not unfamiliar in Concord and the Boston region as a whole. The repeated nor-easters of 2018 put a strain on power supply in the area and did significant damage. The tornado in 2016 caused significant damage throughout our town.
These types of events are projected to continue to increase. Concord will be in a better position to handle them if we can manage the precipitation safely and continue to maintain our tree canopy and other natural systems well. Building a strong foundation of natural and built infrastructure will help absorb the impacts of increasingly intense events as time goes on.
With all this green infrastructure, we will be better able to weather the storms. But everyone should act to better prepare their homes and businesses with extra safety precautions.
How You Can Help
Help Prepare Concord for a Changing Climate
Climate change is bringing hotter days and more intense storms that threaten the health and safety of our community. Proactively preparing your household for these effects will help prepare you for climate hazards.