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Boston flood planning might be living in the past

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And the future’s now

Darren McCollester/Stringer/Getty Images

That rising sea levels threaten the Boston area is no surprise, nor is it news that officials are acting to mitigate that threat.

What should make people stop and wonder is that much of the planning—if not all—has been based on past storms, precipitation, etc. Meanwhile, the flooding that swept the region’s coastal areas during the snow cyclone in early January offers a preview of what more intense storms could deliver in the not-so-distant future.

As the Wall Street Journal notes in a January 28 report, Boston proper could be particularly vulnerable to such catastrophic flooding on a fairly regular basis based on where the city has grown the most.

Take the fast-growing Seaport District: “Within 50 years, the city’s flooding model predicts, floodwaters will cover the district about once a year—and there isn’t any way to stop that with a strategically placed berm.”

Will Boston and its surrounding cities and towns just have to deal with the water then? That or find some ready sources of capital for protecting against these future storms. The Journal again:

In the flood-prone neighborhood of East Boston, the city plans to spend $2 million to $3 million raising a section of street by 2 feet to block floodwaters. But most of the flood-control projects identified for the neighborhood, one of two with $151 million to $253 million in combined needs, are currently unfunded.