Saturday, January 11, 2020

Milwaukee's Lake Michigan infrastructure is taking a (predicted) pounding

I'm reposting a climate change blog item from June 8, 2008 with origins from 2003, along with some current photos of Lake Michigan storm damage along the Milwaukee lakefront over the last few weeks.

My point is to show that experts' suggestions that municipalities upgrade their infrastructure to meet a changing climate have gone largely ignored.
SUNDAY, JUNE 8, 2008

In 2003, EPA Predicted Heavier Rain Events 
Then-Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist and I attended a Great Lakes leaders' conference hosted in Chicago in December, 2003. It was hosted by then-Mayor Mayor Richard Daley to hear a presentation officials from the US EPA tell Midwestern elected leaders that climate change models predicted heavier rain events. 
The EPA officials were urging the Midwestern leaders to adapt their planning and spending to more aggressively confront storm water and related services because heavier, intense rains were going to be come more frequent.  
Part of the message was: forget the notion of the "100-year-storm." They'll come more often than that in the Midwest as the atmosphere warms. 
Again - - this wasn't advocacy science or partisan scare tactics. 
This was basic municipal planning/dollars-and-sense advice from people in the George W. Bush administration to Midwestern mayors offered as an inter-governmental service because climate change was going to hit cities' budgets and constituents in difficult new ways. 
The EPA officials had it all in a very clear and informative power point format - - which I requested, and was assured was coming - - but it never did, and I left the Mayor's staff in January 2004 and didn't make a federal case out of not receiving it. 
Now I wish I had.  
Here's what a County-owned parking lot behind Moosa's restaurant at North Point on the lakefront looked like on December 19, 2019 after stormy weather.

And here's what the lakefront in the same area looks like Saturday after overnight rain and wind. Moosa's restaurant at North Point is in that distant grove of trees in the first photo just past the south end of Bradford Beach, while the flooded area in the second photo is just north of the beach.

1 comment:

Maynard McKillen said...

"Given the amount of damage which has occurred along Wisconsin's Great
Lakes shoreline over the past 25 years, it is clear that many traditional
approaches, particularly structurally-oriented ones, have not proved effective.
Along many reaches, if shore protection devices last more than fifteen years
or through one high water period, they are considered a success.
Generally, there appears to have been an over dependence upon
structural solutions combined with a lack of understanding of erosion
processes. Shore erosion is not a hazard which is simply eliminated with
the expenditure of large sums of money on shore protection. Careful site
analysis and design must precede the placement of all structural devices-
and even then "success" is measured in terms of a few decades.
"Without proper engineering and maintenance, structural failure can be expected at
an even earlier point. Virtually all emergency structures and many low-
cost structures (those under $100 per linear foot) do not last beyond ten
Existing nonstructural solutions have not proved any more effective.
While all coastal counties and many coastal communities have adopted minmum
setback standards (75 feet from the ordinary high water mark), this single
measure does not insure adequate protection. Recession rates and slope
failure hazards are simply too great along many reaches.
Also, since erosion hazard disclosure is not officially required in Wisconsin, decisions
on coastal lands continue to be made without adequate advance information.
If traditional structural and nonstructural methods continue to be employed
on an individual-needs basis in Wisconsin, damage losses can be expected to
rise in the future."