According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimations, nearly 2,400 buildings on Nantucket are at risk of impact by coastal flooding and/or erosion due to sea level rise (SLR) over the next 50 years. With an estimated cost of damages at $3.4 billion and the potential for unseen impacts on the local economy, the Town and County of Nantucket have developed a coordinated response known as the Coastal Resiliency Plan (CRP). The plan’s details are outlined in the comprehensive 286-page document finalized in late 2021.
Kicked off under the obligation of the Town’s 2019 Hazard Mitigation Plan, the Town put together an impressive collaboration with various Town departments, community groups, and supply chain providers to develop an actionable plan that determines risks, priorities, a budget, and timeline.
It’s impossible to protect every home, commercial building, island resource, and asset, so the CRP has laid out an initial roadmap of 40 projects for implementation and completion in the next 5-15 years and beyond. Focus areas were identified as Downtown/Brant Point, ‘Sconset, Madaket, South Shore, Polpis/Nantucket Harbor, and Jetties to Eel Point.
The highest priorities were assigned to efforts that protect the critical infrastructure that supports remote island living, like power/data cable, substations, water systems, and transportation. In addition, the importance of history and cultural institutions was also acknowledged as providing unique and significant assets to the island.
The estimated costs for the projects recommended through the CRP are between $830-$900 million. The Select Board had expressed unanimous support for adopting the plan in a meeting in January but voted 3-2 against adopting it later that month. The CRP has stated that the document and its recommendations will be dynamic and will require re-evaluations as time goes on, so stay tuned.