The City of Gloucester Community Development Department has received a $310,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs to re-establish a floodplain and restore the habitat in the Little River near the West Gloucester Water Treatment Plant. Gloucester received a Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Coastal Resilience Grants Program as part of a larger initiative to reduce risks associated with coastal storms, erosion and sea level rise. The Commonwealth awarded a total of $1.5 million to seven cities and towns. City officials were thrilled with the announcement.
“The City of Gloucester understands the importance of proactively addressing the impacts of climate change,” said Mayor Carolyn A. Kirk. “Projects like the Little River floodplain project will ensure the maintenance of invaluable shoreline ecosystems for future generations to come.”
Image courtesy of Good Morning Gloucester
The City will use the CZM grant to re-establish a coastal floodplain by removing concrete structures and fill that dates back to the onset of operations at the Water Treatment Plant in West Gloucester. A new salt marsh will be created using bioengineering techniques, which will buffer the shoreline from future storm damage and improve the habitat for native species in the Little River estuary. The CZM Coastal Resilience Grants Program provides local communities with funding and technical resources for planning, feasibility assessment, design, permitting, construction and monitoring of green infrastructure projects that use natural approaches such erosion-control vegetation, restored coastal floodplains and new salt marsh habitats as viable alternatives to traditional structures like seawalls.
The Little River project is part of a broader effort by the City of Gloucester to comprehensively address potential climate change impacts on the city’s 62 miles of shoreline, which is subject to erosion and flooding during coastal storms. Earlier this year, the CZM awarded the City a $50,000 grant to develop a community-based Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. The City used the funds to contract Consultants from Kleinfelder and The Woods Hole Group, who will utilize scenario planning to help the public and city officials understand the range of possible conditions and effect of actions and inaction.
Based on this planning and future public input, consultants and the City will develop recommendations in areas such as land use, capital planning, and infrastructure development. The project is under the oversight of a working group comprised of representatives from city departments, the City Council, Planning Board, Conservation Commission and Clean Energy Commission.