Council Members Costa Constantinides called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to factor rising sea levels into Photo courtesy of Costa Constantinides

Constantinides Urges Corps of Engineers to Factor Rising Sea Levels

By David Brand
Queens Daily Eagle

Council Member Costa Constantinides, chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reconsider the existing proposals to protect New York City against confounding storm surges, which currently don’t account for sea levels rising at an alarming pace.

Constantinides introduced a resolution in the City Council Wednesday that, if passed, would call on the Corps to completely reassess its resiliency plan.

“Rising sea levels pose an extreme, immediate danger for the 500,000 New Yorkers who live near our shores,” said Constantinides. “Frankly, it’s shocking the Corps is giving an incomplete answer to the question of how we make New York City more resilient. The public deserves to give its say on these proposals, which I strongly urge the Corps to reconsider altogether.”

Constantinides said the public been deprived of sufficient time to comment on the New York/New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Focus Area Feasibility Study, which he said could have huge and costly effects in the long run.

Constantinides urged the federal agency to extend the public comment period 90 days beyond its Sept. 20 deadline. He said there have been few hearings across the 150 mile zone, which stretches from Troy, N.Y. to Newark, N.J.

The feasibility study came after Hurricane Sandy battered the coasts of New York City, Long Island and New Jersey October 2012.

The study’s each estimated to cost tens of billions of dollars, propose gates and barriers at various points in New York Harbor and the Long Island Sound. Sadly, these don’t consider the expected one-foot sea level increase by 2050, contaminants being contained within the harbor, or how wildlife such as striped bass, sturgeon, and eels may see a disruption in their migratory habits.

“The Army Corps’ study has been flawed from the very start: Any coastal storm protection plan must address flooding from sea level rise – not just from storm surge. The massive, in-water barriers included in several of the current alternatives would do absolutely nothing to protect against flooding from sea level rise. And because these giant barriers restrict the tidal flow and migration of fish, they would have catastrophic effects on the life in the Hudson and New York Harbor,” said John Lipscomb, Riverkeeper Patrol Boat Captain and Vice President of Advocacy. “Without the additional information meetings promised by the Corps, along with the disclosure of data, reports, and resources used in its decision making, the comment period should not end.”

In an Aug. 29 letter to the Corps, Constantinides said citizens should have more opportunities to discuss their concerns about the plan.

“This project is likely to be one of the most dramatic undertakings in the New York City metropolitan area for the last century, and will set a course for how the city adapts to the realities of climate change for centuries to come,” Constantinides said in the letter. “We owe it to future generations to ensure that we take the time to get this right.”

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