Our coastal communities are already feeling the beginning of a changing climate.
In addition to the stormwater, heat, and drought issues experienced by the rest of the Watershed, coastal communities are also uniquely threatened by tidal flooding, storm surges, and sea level rise.
In the Neponset Watershed, everything downstream of the Baker Dam in Lower Mills (Dorchester/Milton) is considered the Neponset Estuary – an area where saltwater and tidal forces play a role in water chemistry and ecology. This includes the southern part of Dorchester, Milton’s waterfront, and Northwestern Quincy, with much of the land owned and managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).
In addition, many of the neighborhoods along the waterfront are Environmental Justice communities – those that have historically been excluded from local decision-making around development and environmental issues. Residents with lower household income, people of color, and those with limited English proficiency are particularly climate vulnerable, and less able to afford the costs, both health and financial, of climate change-related damage.
This combination of complex geography, political boundaries, and at-risk communities makes climate resilience work in the Estuary incredibly important. A top priority is centering residents in all decision-making processes, and allowing updated scientific climate modeling and assessments of the Estuary to drive decisions. A key component of a resilient Neponset Estuary is leveraging our existing salt marshes for nature-based solutions to coastal flooding through preservation and restoration.
Our work in the Estuary is really just beginning, but we are working with the Town of Milton and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) to develop a Neponset Estuary Climate Advisory Council composed of municipal and state staff, and representatives from community-based organizations to discuss climate resilience and the role of nature-based solutions.
We are also working to get an updated assessment of the salt marsh conditions across the Estuary, update climate modeling and marsh migration, and re-evaluate the status of the Baker Dam in light of the Lower Neponset Superfund and potential flooding issues.
For more information or to get involved in our Estuary work, please contact NepRWA River Restoration Director, Sean McCanty, at firstname.lastname@example.org