Two billion dollars over the next five years.
That’s the cost of repairing and shoring up coastlines in the region, according to a survey out this month from the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative – on top of nearly $900 million municipalities have already spent over the last two years. The group says the damage is driven by climate change, and calls on the American and Canadian governments to fund local efforts.
“Communities around the Great Lakes face a growing crisis, and we need both the Federal Governments of the U.S. and Canada to assist with the necessary investments,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in a statement. “Our coastal infrastructure is vital to the economic and recreational health of our communities, and coordinated action is required.”
Initiative executive director Jon Altenberg says the coastal problems come in a wide variety of forms: damage to buildings and commercial piers, disappearing beaches, eroding sidewalks, and more.
“Zion, Illinois, has a problem with a (water intake pump) which is supplying water to about 40,000 people,” Altenberg said. “If erosion continues to impact them, they’re not going to have water.”
Nearly every respondent to the survey said they were highly or moderately concerned about coastal issues. But many municipalities, especially smaller cities and towns, don’t have staff with expertise to address coastal repairs and climate change mitigation.
“We’re (helping municipalities) come up with resiliency plans across coastlines and then helping them seek out funding through the federal and state governments,” Altenberg said. “If and when infrastructure legislation is passed out of Washington – and I believe it’s when, I’m hoping this fall – the timing of having this information and being able to act upon it when finally, these resources will be available thru the federal government … is really important.”