Unit Review

Section 1: Potential Risks and Impacts Background

In this section, you covered:

Fluctuating water levels:

Physical access to boat slips, navigation channels and harbors of refuge may be compromised by fluctuating water levels which also influence a facility’s ability to operate, and in turn, affect finances and patronage. Impacts include reduced stability and strength of dockage, increased need for dredging, changes in beach area available, variation in nearshore habitat and increased costs for adaptations. A variety of tools are available to help you visualize and understand water level changes.

Increased storm frequency and intensity with increased precipitation:

Storms are becoming more frequent and more intense, escalating the risk for damage at marinas and harbors. Larger waves, higher seiches and greater storm surges can damage port and harbor infrastructure, advance shoreline erosion, increase need for scour protection, increase sedimentation and resuspension and cause damage to facility and personal property. Increased volumes of precipitation may overwhelm stormwater management systems, carry polluted runoff to your waterway and lead to shoreline slope failures.

Temperature changes:

Changes in our region’s temperatures may extend the boating season and bring more people to the waterfront (e.g., for respite from a heat wave). This may influence your operations schedule and raising caution for launching boats in an early warm period potentially followed by a late spring freeze. Temperature changes may affect how your buildings operate (heating and cooling costs), how infrastructure holds up and also impact shoreline bluff stability (e.g., changes in freeze-thaw cycle accelerate slope erosion processes).

Section 2: Infrastructure

In this section, you covered:

Evaluating risks to infrastructure and grounds:

Much of our infrastructure was built to accommodate past conditions and is now showing its age, while also being subjected to a new range of conditions that may accelerate deterioration. Evaluating the potential risks and weak points of infrastructure and grounds is a best practice and a first step in being prepared for and building resilience against uncertainty.

Investing in permanent adaptations:

As many marina and harbor structures in the Great Lakes reach or exceed their design life, there are opportunities to invest in repairs or permanent adaptations to increase resilience to more extreme environmental conditions. After assessing your facilities and grounds it may be necessary to repair or replace some components of your stormwater management system, buildings, wood infrastructure, pilings or shoreline protection structures. Also, consider installation of a floating dock to provide uniform freeboard across fluctuating water levels.

Section 3: Dredging

In this section, you covered:

Identifying jurisdiction for dredging:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) regulates dredging in the Great Lakes and may delegate some responsibility for permitting to state agencies. Before you can apply for a permit for dredging work, you must determine the responsible agency.

Collecting required information:

Next, compile required permit materials; this usually includes: information about the quantity of materials to be dredged, survey or dredging plan to show area to be dredged, the location and condition of the proposed disposal site, as well as names and addresses of nearby landowners and likely environmental impacts. If there is reason to believe sediments may be contaminated, sediment testing will be required. It may behoove you to have these materials prepared in order to respond to future funding assistance programs or budget allocations.

Explore funding options:

The federal government, through the Corps’ Operation and Maintenance (O&M) budget — funded by the Harbor Maintenance Tax — funds dredging in the designated Great Lakes navigation system. As federal funding as become less consistent, states and communities have been increasingly funding dredging work to support communities dependent on their small recreational harbors. Some communities have developed their own funding structure to support dredging work, including development of a Water Resources Tax Improvement Finance Authority.

Section 4: Planning and Financing

In this section, you covered:

Representing your facility in community planning:

Comprehensive planning and climate adaptation planning are types of community planning that both serve to garner support for a shared waterfront vision, safeguard economic interests and increase community preparedness. By engaging in these planning exercises you can show local decision-makers that your facility is an important part of the waterfront. To increase your community’s — or your facility’s — resilience, consider reviewing your facility and operations by adding the lens of climate variability to assess implications for stated goals, objectives and strategies.

Developing a hazard mitigation plan:

With increasingly intense storms, flooding and storm surges may also come an increase in damage to real property along waterfronts. Developing a hazard mitigation plan can set you up to be prepared and will also create a suite of potential responses specific to your marina or harbor (e.g., beach erosion, damage to infrastructure) should a hazardous situation arise.

Estimating costs of adaptation:

Typical operating costs for marinas and harbors may be increased in responding to extreme water level variability and increased storm frequency and intensity. To increase readiness, it is helpful to understand potential costs of repair or replacement of infrastructure and of increased dredging. Resources are available to assist you in this evaluation.

Exploring financing options:

To fund adaptation and sustainability efforts for waterfront operations, explore financing opportunities from the local, state or federal government including grants or loans supported through general fund revenue, bonds or indirectly through taxes. Also, explore public-private partnerships and support from waterfront non-profit or trade association.