New York only to get hotter, rainier and more flood-prone, say scientists
NY Daily News
BY Adam Lisberg
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU CHIEF
Tuesday, February 17th 2009, 4:10 PM
A scene from the movie, “The Day After Tomorrow.” The mayor warned that New York will become more prone to flooding in the coming decades.
New York will be hotter, rainier and more likely to flood in the coming decades – with sea levels possibly rising more than four feet, a panel of scientists said Tuesday –
“All of the evidence from the science community is that the seas are going to rise,” said Mayor Bloomberg as he unveiled the panel’s report.
“It’s pretty hard to not understand something’s going on, very worrisome and scary, on this planet.
“The planet is changing, and we have to do what we can to make sure we can accommodate it,” he added. “Did we, 10 years ago, think about water rising?
“Only a few people talked about it, and it was considered a communist plot. So by that standard, I suppose we have made some progress.”
Academic experts and insurance executives on the panel concluded that average temperatures could rise up to 7.5 degrees by 2080, rainfall could increase by 10% and sea levels will rise two feet.
Some studies predict the polar ice caps will melt much more quickly, which could raise New York’s sea level by 55 inches by the 2080s – more than 4-1/2 feet.
That likely means heavier and more frequent flooding from rainstorms and coastal flooding, the panel conluded, as well as heavier demands on all city infrastructure from electric power to sewers.
Weather experts say New York is due for a hurricane, and the city’s Office of Emergency Management has drawn up evacuation plans that assume huge swaths of lower Manhattan and low-lying areas of the outer boroughs will be underwater during a moderate hurricane.
“The city’s 14 wastewater treatment plants are particularly vulnerable,” said Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Steve Lawitts.
“Seawalls will be elevated where possible to protect the plants from flooding.”
Bloomberg announced the panel’s findings at a sewage treatment plant in Far Rockaway, Queens, that sits on the water’s edge and is vulnerable to flooding.
Plan superintendent Frank Esposito showed the mayor and top city officials the plant’s eight pump motors at the bottom of a deep concrete pit, where they could be inundated in a heavy storm.
The agency plans to raise them 40 feet sometime in the coming years, at a cost of $30 million.
Many of the agency’s other long-term plans will take decades to plan, city officials said, with a cost still being tallied.
“Each of these projects costs money,” Bloomberg said. “Just to raise the motors that you saw downstairs, that’s a $30 million project. But the number of things at every one of these wastewater treatment plants is significant.”