Sea levels around Boston could rise as much as 7.5 feet by 2100, according to climate scientists. As a result, the city is at risk of significant flooding during high tides and normal rainfall let alone big storms.
The Urban Land Institute held brainstorming sessions over the last several months involving more than 70 engineers, architects, and development and insurance specialists to examine how rising sea levels would affect four representative areas in and around Boston. The group concluded that the area should consider building canals to absorb and divert water and higher sea walls for flood protection. It also called on called on municipalities to discuss ways to raise money for preparing vulnerable areas and to alter building and zoning rules to take the likelihood of flooding into account.
“We’re not going to start digging the canals tomorrow,” Brian Swett, Boston’s chief of energy, environment, and open space, told the Boston Globe. “But the report makes the important point that you can’t solve 6 feet of sea level rise simply by building a bigger dam on the Charles River.”
In the low-lying Alewife section of Cambridge, new residences might have to be concentrated into taller buildings with more space between them to make room for water infiltration. The report also suggested that retail shops be concentrated into a raised corridor to keep them above flood waters.