This information was submitted by Sen. Ed Meyer's office:
As members of the newly formed Shoreline Preservation Task Force, State Senator Ed Meyer (D-Guilford) and state Representatives Pat Widlitz (D-Guilford), Lonnie Reed (D-Branford) and Noreen Kokoruda (R-Madison) are calling for serious study of climate change, rising sea levels and potential impacts to our coastal areas.
This week, the new task force heard presentations from two scientists – Robert Thieler of the U.S. Geological Survey and Jennifer Pagach of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection – on climate change and potential impacts to the Connecticut shoreline.
“People who live along the shoreline need to know we are being proactive about preparing for future storms,” Sen. Meyer said. “When you take rising sea levels and add in storms like Irene, you get a recipe for disaster. Planning ahead for future storms means acknowledging the reality of climate change and finding ways to adapt.”
Last summer, Tropical Storm Irene wreaked havoc on Connecticut’s coastline, causing flooding that damaged properties and further eroded beaches. The Shoreline Preservation Task Force will study the problem and use data and research to make recommendations for how prepare for future storms and preserve the existing shoreline.
"This is a serious issue and one that we cannot afford to ignore," said Rep. Widlitz. "We need to be prepared for whatever is in store in the future, as it affects our shorelines. This committee will follow through on the intent of the legislation I helped negotiate in 2008, helping our committees to mitigate the effects of climate change.”
"Some people in Branford are still recovering from the damage done by Irene this summer and we had to replace a road that is the only way in and out of a neighborhood for 450 families," said Rep. Reed. “We need to know as much as we can about what might be coming our way and how best to prepare to protect people and property.”
“I'm looking forward to working with fellow shoreline legislators to help develop policies that will best serve our communities,” said Rep. Kokoruda.
Studies show that water temperatures in Long Island Sound have been slowly increasing over the past few decades and scientists have observed decreases in cold-water fish. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reported that East Coast sea levels have risen 5 to 6 inches more than the global average over the past century. This kind of data contributes to the complex equation of how climate change is impacting the Long Island Sound and the Connecticut shoreline.
Speakers at this week’s task force meeting talked about strategies that include mapping erosion risk, climate monitoring, planning for possible storm scenarios, learning from the past and adapting in the future. Pagach presented tidal gauge data from New London that seems to indicate accelerated sea-level rise in the Sound, but she warned the task force that further interpretation by experts is needed to definitively identify rates of change. Thieler told the task force members that the reality is that sea levels will continue to rise over the next few centuries.
“Climate change is happening. We cannot ignore the fact that erosion, rising sea levels, and more severe storms are putting our coastal areas at risk,” Sen. Meyer said. “But we can prepare and plan for these changes so that future generations are better equipped to weather severe storms.”