Municipal Climate Change and Natural Hazard Vulnerability Assessment in Massachusetts
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The need for municipalities, regional planning organizations, states, and federal agencies to increase resilience and adapt to extreme weather events and climate change is evident in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) grant program provides funding for cities and towns to begin planning for climate change resiliency. The Town of Stow received funding through the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) administered MVP program to conduct a Community Resiliency Building (CRB) workshop. The goal of the workshop was to complete a baseline climate change and natural hazard vulnerability assessment and to develop specific actions for addressing priority hazards in Stow. The town selected a team led by Geosyntec to conduct this assessment.

Geosyntec's Scope of Services

Geosyntec first attended an in-person kickoff meeting with Stow's core team to discuss details of the project and achieve consensus on project outcomes and goals. We then prepared for the CRB workshop by conducting a series of interviews with community representatives to identify potential strengths and vulnerabilities of the town, prepared a series of base maps with relevant information (e.g., infrastructure, floodplains, and conservation land), then prepared introductory presentation materials to guide the workshop. This included an overview of town-specific climate projections and potential nature-based solutions to address vulnerabilities. Geosyntec then facilitated a two-day community-driven workshop to develop prioritized actions to improve the town's resilience to vulnerabilities associated with natural and climate-related hazards such as drought, flooding, and extreme weather events.

Notable Accomplishments

Working closely with the town and community stakeholders, the Geosyntec team developed a prioritized list of wide-ranging recommendations and associated action items to improve resilience. For example, Stow supports a vibrant farming community that serves as a seasonal tourist attraction, but does not have a public water supply. Therefore, potential impacts from drought were identified as a primary concern. Two of the top recommended actions were to conduct a baseline water supply vulnerability assessment and to develop programs to increase the resiliency and long-term viability of the farming community in Stow. The results of this project will help the town increase their standing in future funding opportunities and signify their commitment to building resilience and preparing for climate change, putting them far ahead of the curve compared to other similar communities in the state.

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Project Summary

  • Location: Stow, Massachusetts
  • Client: Town of Stow, Massachusetts
  • Project Practice Areas: Environmental Management
  • Type of Facility: Emergency preparedness
  • Services Provided: Climate change assessment; Mapping vulnerabilities and strengths; Developing and prioritizing mitigation actions; Recommendations to improve resilience; Stakeholder engagement and public outreach
  • Type of Work: Vulnerability assessment
  • Governing Regulation: State and Federal