Coastal Protection

Many of our members have asked us over the years about coastal erosion and what action FHNMA was taking. We have personally seen erosion on Great Bay with resulting road closures, beach sand swept onto Grand Avenue South and Menauhant Street, storm damage to our beach roads, and increased flood insurance rates given the recent changes in the FEMA flood zone maps.

Our best method of action is to make sure that those in power in Falmouth are aware of our concern, to keep letting them know how much of our “focus area” is coastal, and then to notify our members of any news we hear (see links below).

Although our “Coastal Watch” liaison position is currently open (and available to be filled by a member volunteer if you are interested), all of our Directors, and especially our Co-Presidents, are keeping a keen eye open for news in any form. Whenever appropriate, we plan to appear before town committee meetings to express our members’ thoughts.

This matter has also become the talk of the town, Cape, state and nation, as well as the subject matter for numerous studies being conducted and/or recently completed. We all seem to know the problems, but the questions are what action to take and how to fund it. Scientists and experts in the field are working on this with grant money from the state and federal governments, so at this point we, as an organization, are forced to wait for results of these ongoing studies and then to contribute efforts to the town as it formulates policies.

On Thursday, October 24, 2019, our Co-President, Dave Buzanoski, attended a Falmouth League of Women Voters presentation at the library on “Coastal Resilience” at which Charles McCaffery, of the Falmouth Coastal Resilience Action Committee, presented commentary on the town’s ongoing study on “Climate Change Vulnerability, Assessment and Adaptation Planning”, including such matters as Surf Drive Vulnerability, what municipal infrastructure is at risk, ways of reducing flood damage, protecting our beaches from sand erosion, etc. This is a current study which is expected to be completed shortly.

The second presentation at this meeting was by Erin Perry of the Cape Cod Commission on “Resilient Cape Cod” (NOAA Coastal Resilience Grant). This group recently completed a 3-year study to investigate the environmental and socio-economic effects of local and regional coastal resilience strategies. As a result of this study, they have developed an interactive tool called the “Cape Cod Coastal Planner” which can assist communities in making decisions related to the coastal impacts of sea level rise, storm surge, and erosion.

The Cape Cod Coastal Planner is now available online at . We encourage all of our members, especially those who own property in a flood zone, to visit this website to review the effects of sea level fluctuations on Cape Cod including specific towns and communities.

On Tuesday, October 29, 2019, Dave attended a presentation at the Falmouth library on “Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Planning”. While much of the general data and statistics are similar to other studies being completed, this study specifically addresses a Risk Assessment Study of Falmouth municipal assets, i.e. buildings such as town hall, the police station, schools, parks, roads, treatment plants, pumping stations etc. The study is nearing completion and will be available to the public very soon. The data used is very similar to that used in the previously mentioned Cape Cod Planner tool, although this study is being restricted to Falmouth town owned assets.

Each Falmouth asset is assigned a Risk factor established by using the following formula: Risk (R) = Probability of flooding (P) x Consequence of flooding (how important to the town) (C).

The study will also make recommendations noting options to consider to mitigate risk. Some of these recommendations are smaller, less expensive, near term actions, while others are longer range and astronomically expensive.

One interesting bit of data which was derived from a MASSDOT study was the concept employed in establishing a sort of “worst case scenario” whereby estimates used for sea level rise are based on figures which were considered “99.5% unlikely to exceed”, e.g.:
2030: +1.1′
2050: +2.4′
2070: +4.2′
2100: +7.7′

Otherwise, the study / presentation contained much more data than could possibly be represented here, including numerous graphs, charts, and spread sheets as well as computer graphics for various areas of Falmouth for the dates mentioned above.

Needless to say, it will be a very interesting future in this “Water World” and we will keep you apprised as time goes by.

To keep up with ongoing town efforts, you can sign up through the town website’s “Notify Me” to receive notices of agendas and minutes for the Coastal Resiliency Action Committee, Waterways Committee, Harbor Master’s notices, etc.

Recent Falmouth Enterprise articles include:

October 1, 2019: “Woods Hole Group Offers Plans to Cope with Sea Level ”, pages 1 & 14.

October 1, 2019: “Coastal Repairs Needed in Wake of Violent Storm”, pages 1 & 14 and published online as on October 29 as “In Wake of Storm Falmouth Looks to Make Repairs”.

October 25, 2019: Falmouth Water Stewards column – “Our Current System is Inadequate in Face of Change”, page 6.

November 1, 2019: “Coastal Forum Outlines Falmouth’s Resiliency Challenges”, page 14; published online October 29, 2019.

November 8, 2019: “Commission Receives $145K Grant to Develop Coastal Resiliency Bylaws”. page 6.