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Coastal flooding threatens vital Long Island Sound infrastructure

The public health advisory was removed on Monday.
Molly Ingram
The Raymark brownfield remediation site in Stratford, CT is at risk of flooding, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

A study from the Union of Concerned Scientists finds that sea level rise is threatening vital infrastructure on Long Island Sound.

The report provides different scenarios based on predicted sea level rise. The medium rate predicts that sea levels will rise 3.2 feet globally in the next 75 years — that’s based on information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

If that happens, scientists say the Devon station power plant, an electrical substation in Bridgeport, as well as superfund and brownfield sites on both sides of the Long Island Sound, could flood as often as twice a month.

A map of all the potentially impacted infrastructure can be seenhere.

Erika Spanger, the union’s director of strategic climate analytics, said inaction could be detrimental to coastal communities.

“We looked at critical infrastructure, and it's just that. It's critical,” Spanger said. “If we let it flood chronically, these essential services that people and communities rely on for public safety and well-being will be unexpectedly disrupted.”

There are 39 critical infrastructure assets at risk of flooding at least twice a year by 2050 on the Sound, according to the study.

Nationwide, that number jumps to nearly 1,100 critical infrastructure assets that may flood 12 times yearly on average by 2050.

Many of them are located in disadvantaged communities.

“Our results show pretty clearly that disadvantaged communities along our coastlines are bearing the brunt of this, the exposure of critical infrastructure to flooding,” Spanger said. “So that's a place we're going to need to be prioritizing investment. We were surprised to find that affordable housing and public housing are the infrastructure category at greatest risk.”

In Connecticut, Bridgeport’s Meadowview Manor Raymond E. Baldwin public housing facility and Stamford's Colony Apartments, Woodland Place and Marshall Commons FKA Ludlow Place affordable housing units are all at risk of future flooding.

On Long Island, the Beach 66 Apartments and Beach Green North affordable housing are at risk.

“The science is very strong, and it's very straightforward,” Spanger said. “And no community is going to want to be taken by surprise by this and find that, you know, abruptly, tidal flooding is inundating and disrupting the functioning of its fire station, its emergency response services.”

Spanger said the data is used to inform communities about what the future of their community may hold, and lawmakers about the need to cut heat-trapping emissions to slow sea level rise.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.