Adaptation to Climate Disruption

Our state has something that a lot of states don’t, a resource that is essential for economic activity, public health, and quality of life - water. But if we don’t manage it well, it will be gone out to sea. We need to make better long-term investments in managing stormwater, wastewater and drinking water. Read here about Climate Disruption and Resource Resilience from the OARS Newsletter of Feb. 2013.

OARS’ 2013 Water Forum, “Choosing the Fate of our Water Resources: Adapting to Climate Disruption” held on April 6, 2013, addressed these concerns and presented practical action that we can take. See the presentation slides below. Note: Why do we call it climate disruption? The science shows us that this change in climate will not be neutral - it will disrupt essential ecological, economic and social systems. While we still believe fervently in the need to take steps to reduce the causes of climate disruption, as river stewards we must direct our work to protecting and preserving the values of our watershed in light of the severe disruption we anticipate. In a word, adaptation.

There are many innovative ways to manage water that strengthen our communities and the ecosystems which provide essential services. It is hard to even conceive of how much it would cost to build structures to capture, store and purify all our stormwater so that we have it when we need it. But nature does it much more cheaply, as long as we protect our land, streams and rivers. All of us also need to invest in energy efficiency and conservation to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gasses.

OARS' 2013 Water Forum:
List of Presenters
Welcome and introduction — Pete Shanahan, OARS President
Water infrastructure legislation (list of bills filed) — Senator Jamie Eldridge

Knowing the Issues:
Climate disruption: Crisis and choices — Paul Kirshen, University of New Hampshire
Local effects of climate change — Sue Flint and Alison Field-Juma, OARS

Finding the solutions:
Littleton Smart Sewer Project — Bob Zimmerman, Charles River Watershed Association
Case studies of stormwater and wastewater reuse — Scott Horsley, Horsley Witten
Grappling with new visions in a changing climate — Janot Mendler de Suarez, Boston University

Working with our communities:
In 2021, with the Town of Stow, OARS initiated a SuAsCo Climate Resilience Coalition focused on building ecological resilience and using nature-based infrastructure in our communities.

Other resources:
Climate Disruption and Resource Resilience (OARS Newsletter Feb. 2013)
Games for a New Climate: Experiencing the Complexity of Future Risks
Massachusetts’ Climate Change Adaptation Report, 2011 and more
When it Rains, it Pours: Global Warming and the Increase in Extreme Precipitation from 1948 to 2011
OARS’ project on Brook Trout and Climate Change