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Dam Repair Bill for Massachusetts gets passed

  
  
  
  
  

The Massachusetts State Legislature recently passed a bill that would set aside $17 million for the repair or removal of unsafe, abandoned dams or dams that have outlived their usefulness.  This bill should make it easier for cities and towns to repair or remove weakening dams or seawalls.

The bill would require emergency plans be created for all dams that are inspected and found to be at a high or significant hazard of failure.  The bill would also set up a State Revolving Loan Fund, similar to what is in place for Clean Water projects, to provide low-interest loans to private dam owners and to cities and towns to inspect, repair and remove dams.

In addition to the inland dam provisions of the bill, a portion of the money will also go towards coastal infrastructure improvements, including jetties, retaining walls and levies. A report from the Department of Conservation and Recreation had identified $1 billion in needed repairs to over 140 miles of sea walls on Massachusetts' coast.

The bill will help improve the health of rivers and the marine wildlife by restoring the natural flow of waterways that have been blocked by dams that have outlived their usefulness.

The last notable provision of the bill is that it will set up an inspection schedule to ensure that all "high hazard dams" are inspected at least every two years and all "significant hazard dam" are inspected at least every five years.

For questions or more information about dam inspections and dam safety, please contact Mark S. Bartlett at (508) 747-7900 extension 131.

Information for this post taken from a January 1, 2013 Cape Cod Times article entitled "Mass. lawmakers OK bill to repair, remove old dams" by Steve LeBlanc of the Associated Press and a January 2, 2013 article in the Boston Globe titled "Mass OK's bill to fund seawalls, dam work" by Kathy McCabe.

 

April Showers bring .... basement flooding

  
  
  
  
  

While this spring has been relatively dry, springtime usually brings lots of rainfall and late april and early may is typically the time of year when the groundwater levels are highest. These two factors work together to cause groundwater intrusion and basement flooding.

The problem with wet basements (aside from the actual damage caused by the water) is that each case is unique and there is no one solution fits all. For some people, installing a sump pit and a sump pump is all the is needed, for others, hiring a basement contractor will fix the problem. For recurring persistent flooding issues, a site-specific engineered solution may be what is needed.  An engineered solution can target the cause of the flooding and address it at its source.

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Norfolk can design an engineered solution to keep your basement dry throughout every spring. For more information or to speak about your specific problem, please contact Mark S. Bartlett P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 131.

Download our free wet basement/basement flooding evaluation kit here. 

Global warming in Massachusetts and in the Northeast

  
  
  
  
  

Massachusetts and the Northeast, like the rest of the world, are affected by global warming. This alarming phenomenon due to heat-trapping emissions from human activities needs to be tackled. For the past several years, the climate has changed a lot in Massachusetts: spring arrives earlier, the temperatures in summer and in winter are higher, and there is less and less snow in winter. This climate change can have dramatic consequences on the environment, the economy and the quality of life in Massachusetts and it is going to be worse if emissions continue to grow.

Past emissions have already set in motion unavoidable changes. Decisions and emissions choices have now to be made to counteract climate change and protect the future generations from the most severe consequences of global warming.

There are two different emissions scenarios:

  • High-emissions scenario : if no efforts are made, fossil fuels continue to be used and heat-trapping emissions are still growing
  • Lower-emissions scenario : if there is an increase in the use of clean energy technologies and a decrease in emissions

Climate change may affect Massachusetts and other Northeast States in different ways. However, if the high-emission scenario were to continue, the consequences could be dire. The consequences are:

  • Temperature : it could rise 8°F to 12°F above historic levels in winter and 6°F to 14°F in summer by late century
  • Precipitations and winter snow : winter precipitation will increase from 20 to 30%, there will be less snow and more rain, more flooding and heavy, damaging rainfall events
  • Drought and stream flow : the frequency of short-term droughts will increase and the summer stream flow decrease because of the rise in temperatures and the change in summer rainfall. This will increase stress on ecosystems and water supply in the State.
  • Sea-level rise: the global sea-level is expected to rise between 10 inches and 2 feet by the end of the century. This is particularly alarming in Massachusetts where the coast is densely populated: 4.8 Million people live along Massachusetts’ coastline. There will be an increase in the frequency and severity of damaging storm surges and coastal flooding.

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Global warming will have many impacts on coastal communities, human health, fisheries, agriculture, forests, and winter recreation. Massachusetts policy makers will have to make decisions to protect the population, wildlife, and critical coastal wetlands. 

What can be done by individual households, businesses and governments to reduce emissions ?

Massachusetts and the Northeast are global leaders in technology, finance and innovation and they are a major source of heat-trapping emissions as well. They can launch a national and international progress if they make sustained efforts to reduce emissions.

The main goal is to reduce global emissions below the lower-emissions scenario, that is to say 80% below 2000 levels by mid-century.

State and local governments have to implement effective adaptation strategies to reduce the threat to Massachusetts’ residents, ecosystems and economies. To reach this goal and meet the climate challenge, they have different strategies and policies in the following sectors:

  • Electric power: reform and replace the aging inefficient coal and oil-burning power plants that account for almost 40% of Massachusetts’ electric power.
  • Buildings: increase infrastructure spending to protect vulnerable neighborhoods in coastal communities, support stronger enforcement of building energy codes and amend zoning laws. Local governments can require that new construction and renovation projects achieve the US Green Building Council’s LEED certification for example.
  • Transportation : invest in public transportation, create incentives to purchase low-emission vehicles, promote ‘’smart growth’’ strategies
  • Industries and large institutions can install combined-heat-and- power and on-site renewable energy systems to reduce emissions
  • Forestry and agriculture: refine the policies in Massachusetts to promote practices that cost-effectively reduce emissions, for example: increase the use of wind and bioenergy.

 Massachusetts is exposed to climate change and its consequences. The State now has to meet the challenge of tackling global warming locally by reducing emissions. The State has to act swiftly to ensure the future of the coming generations.   

  Information in this article is taken from November 2011, article ‘'Massachusetts, Confronting Climate Change in the US Northeast‘’ by John F. Shea, from Mackie Shea O’Brien. 

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