Much of the Massachusetts coastline is vulnerable to sea level rise and storm surge. Presently, the state relies on a piecemeal approach with each city and town safeguarding its own coastline. The many drawbacks of this approach suggest the need for a new statewide agency to protect communities.
Cities and towns have limited ability to act effectively on their own. Most of their coastlines are privately owned and there are few options for raising funds locally to pay for costly flood control infrastructure. Without a coordinated, systematic approach the actions of one city can negatively affect another. For instance, if Boston were to build infrastructure to safeguard its shore, it could well increase vulnerability in adjoining towns such as Revere, Everett, Quincy, or Chelsea. Further, Boston relies on critical flows of people and goods from its neighbors, so failing to take a regional approach not only exposes important equity gaps between poor and wealthy communities but also leaves wealthier communities more vulnerable. By pooling our common wealth, equitable and resilient solutions are possible.