The Great Lakes region is a dynamic place. Indications of climate variability — shifts in average temperatures, more intense storms and fluctuating lake levels — are increasingly prevalent. Our knowledge is improving over time, yet we will continue to be challenged by the uncertainty of nature. For this reason, waterfront business operators may be best served by increasing their operation’s resilience to a range of environmental conditions.
This unit provides a summary of resources and tools for marina and harbor operators in adapting to environmental variability and building resilience to climate change. Ports, harbors and marinas on the Great Lakes are vulnerable to a number of predicted climate change conditions. Most facilities will need to adapt to changes in the amount of precipitation, stronger and more frequent storms, fluctuating lake levels, and wave and erosion impacts to structures and shorelines. Operational changes may also be needed; for example, shorter winters make for a longer boating season, potentially impacting staffing and scheduling.
Best Management Practices and Legal Setting
This Unit includes four sections consisting of a background and three sections of best management practices as well as a Unit Review. First, the Potential Risks and Impacts Background section provides background information on the top climate risks and impacts for waterfront operations. Second, the Infrastructure section provides operators with an overview of onsite infrastructure considerations and opportunities to increase resilience in making repairs or additions. Third, the Dredging section provides a primer on dredging in the Great Lakes. Fourth, the Planning and Financing section introduces adaptation planning by operators and potential funding options. The following list provides an outline of best management practices that you will see in each section.
- Fluctuating water levels
- Increased storm frequency and intensity
- Precipitation and temperature changes
- Evaluate risks to infrastructure and grounds
- Invest in permanent adaptations
- Identify jurisdiction for dredging
- Collect required information
- Explore funding options
- Represent your facility in community planning
- Create facility-specific plans
- Estimate costs of adaptation
- Explore financing options
Before reviewing the best management practices, please take a few moments to review the legal setting for construction and dredging. This overview of federal laws and regulations provides you with a basis of understanding. It is a starting point, however and is not a complete reference. Please consult your state officials for complete requirements. Also, see: State Laws page for your state.
For information on legal considerations related to construction and dredging, see Legal Setting for Unit 1: Siting Considerations and Marina Design.
This unit was developed with support from the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center (GLISA).