Financing Coastal Resilience

Town of Bourne, Massachusetts

Bourne, Massachusetts, is the gateway to other Cape Cod towns. It spans the Cape Cod Canal and has 55 miles of coastline. It uniquely faces Cape Cod Bay to the northeast and Buzzards Bay to the west. The town faces many risks and vulnerabilities from coastal flooding, erosion and severe storms. Water quality is also a serious concern for the town estuaries.

Challenge

Once a hazard mitigation plan has been approved, communities often struggle to achieve its goals and implement the mitigation strategy. Finding funding can be hard. Other community efforts may seem more urgent than hazard mitigation. Interdisciplinary hazard mitigation teams work together less and less.

Bourne, Massachusetts, is the gateway to other Cape Cod towns. It spans the Cape Cod Canal and has 55 miles of coastline. It uniquely faces Cape Cod Bay to the northeast and Buzzards Bay to the west. The town faces many risks and vulnerabilities from coastal flooding, erosion and severe storms. Water quality is also a serious concern for the town estuaries. Following approval of the town’s hazard mitigation plan in 2017, the community focused its attention on water quality rather than resilience due to limited staffing and capacity.

Solution

Bourne reached out to the Southeast New England Program (SNEP), a program within the Environmental Protection Agency, to improve its approach to green stormwater infrastructure. The SNEP’s mission is to foster collaboration among partners to protect water quality, ecological health and diverse habitats within southeastern New England’s coastal watersheds. Through this program, the town was connected with partners, including a consultant team, who suggested that Bourne review its needs using a big-picture approach.

“We’d get really in the weeds about local projects — [such as] one catch basin in front of one house that floods,” said town engineer Timothy Lydon.

The consultant team used a holistic and national perspective. The town of Bourne and its consultants applied its hazard mitigation plan and the Municipal Vulnerability Program’s risk assessment to develop the Coastal Resilience Financing Assessment report.

The report defines resilience, establishes a resilient financing system, reviews the town’s current resilience efforts and identifies limitations. After identifying a lack of data on potential hazard effects, the report also proposes developing a standardized method to calculate an asset’s vulnerability.

Most hazard mitigation plan actions have significant costs. The report identifies solutions for a rounded approach to resilient financing. The approach includes a resilience enterprise fund, public-private partnerships grants and capital investments.

The resilience enterprise fund will provide a consistent source of seed funding for lower-cost projects and local match dollars for bigger projects. This allows the community to apply for grants broadly without going through a budget allocation process each time. The community’s planning processes provided information about risks and needs, as well as the cost of inaction. Working with SNEP has helped the town start turning these broad concerns into viable, funded projects.

Key Takeaways

Resilience work is an investment in a community’s future. However, it can be challenging to determine the best way to make that initial investment.

  1. Consider a broad approach to “resilience financing” rather than simply finding “funding” for discrete projects. A holistic approach to resilience and paying for resilience lets a community make strategic decisions about investing in risk reduction, using tax or other revenues, and applying for grants. Climate resilience and economic development are connected.
  2. Reach out to partners! The expertise provided by regional/federal programs was invaluable in helping Bourne.
  3. Reduce silos by considering water quality and flooding, climate resilience, and economic development together. These topics are connected and should be viewed together in government and policy conversations, especially when looking for partners or funding sources.

Related Documents and Links

In addition, a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan is required for certain kinds of non-emergency disaster funding. To learn more about funding eligible projects, review the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program, Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, and the new pre-disaster mitigation program Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities.

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