NOAA Awards $243,000 to Prepare Lake Sunapee Watershed for Climate Change, Population Growth
Project aims to empower citizens to choose adaptation plans that are best for their towns
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded Syntectic International LLC of Portland, Ore.; Antioch University New England of Keene, N.H.; and the Lake Sunapee Protective Association of Sunapee, N.H., and partners $243,000 to prepare the Lake Sunapee watershed in New Hampshire for climate change and population growth.
The project partners hope to protect a vulnerable storm water and drinking water system and develop and disseminate practical and transferable information for safeguarding communities, as well as provide specific and reliable estimates of climate change impacts on the Lake Sunapee watershed. By developing a local-scale action protocol, the project team aims to maintain historic storm water risk levels for the Lake Sunapee watershed and other communities facing significant impacts from climate change and population growth.
The interdisciplinary team includes lead investigator Latham Stack, CEO of Syntectic International; Michael Simpson, Jim Gruber and Colin Lawson of Antioch University New England; Robert Roseen, Ph.D., of the University of New Hampshire Stormwater Center; Thomas Crosslin from Climate Techniques of Portland, Ore.; and Robert Wood of the Lake Sunapee Protective Association. Five of the eight researchers are either Antioch New England alumni or faculty.
The project, funded by the Climate Program Office of the NOAA, will focus on the Lake Sunapee watershed area. This region, like many others, is experiencing an unusual and ongoing period of extreme or record rainfalls that significantly diverge from the historical climate pattern. Previous studies by the team in New England found that, as a result of already changed rainfall patterns, portions of existing drainage systems currently are undersized.
"Recent experience and scientific studies are clear," Stack said. "Storm patterns are worsening, and it is no longer prudent to delay action. We will never have perfect science; however, sufficient science is available now. This project will protect the community with adequately reliable, local-scale information to support informed decisions."
By encouraging the participation of local stakeholders, the project aims to empower citizens to choose adaptation plans that are best for their towns. For example, low impact development methods can minimize runoff and significantly reduce the need for more expensive drainage system upgrades, the team said.
The project will be broadly transferable, according to Stack. The team hopes to catalyze similar work nationwide.
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