Every issue we work on links to climate change, climate change adaptation, and resiliency. Climate change is a challenge for rivers because it often exacerbates existing issues for both water quality and water quantity. Increases in severe storms from climate change increase stormwater pollution and elevate the risk of catastrophic floods for both inland and coastal communities. Changes in the timing and location of precipitation combined with more water pollution strain river ecosystems and threaten the survival of many fish and wildlife species. These shifts in our rivers from climate change are already having dramatic impacts on our communities, threatening public health, weakening economies and decreasing the quality of life in many places.
The consequences of a changing climate will depend in large part upon choices that communities have made in the past and are making now to adapt. Communities that fail to safeguard their rivers and streams may see instability with their water supplies. Cities that are unable to address aging infrastructure issues will experience greater increases in stormwater runoff and sewer overflows. Most importantly, communities that have done the greatest damage to their natural infrastructure (in particular wetlands, forests, streams and rivers) will lack defenses to protect them against a changing climate. Decisions related to land use planning, flood protection, water infrastructure and many other facets of community life will have a profound impact on a community’s vulnerability in a warming world and will play a large role in determining the repercussions of climate change.
How are we working on this issue at Mass Rivers?
We are committed to working on improving the resiliency of river systems and their surrounding communities to the impacts of climate change. We do this by championing policies that make rivers healthier and cleaner, while supporting funding for state agencies and communities that are working to address the most significant river-related aspects of climate change. These include efforts to address droughts, floods, and stormwater runoff.