Medford Real Estate & Sea Level

English: View of the bridge over Mystic River ...
English: View of the bridge over Mystic River & the contry adjacent from Bunker's Hill / engraved by S. Hill. Print shows bird's-eye view from Bunker Hill of the "Malden Bridge" across the Mystic River, with Medford, Massachusetts in the background. Illus. in: The Massachusetts magazine, or, Monthly museum of knowledge and rational entertainment. Boston, Mass. : Isaiah Thomas and Ebenezer T. Andrews, vol. II, no. IX, 1790 (September), opp. p. 515. Repository: Library of Congress Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
(Medford, MA) Last week the New York Times wrote an article about the rising level of the oceans. This got me thinking. Medford has an average 14 feet above sea level. If the ocean sea level rises what would this mean to our city? One major feature Medford has is The Mystic River, running right through the middle our city. If ocean sea levels were to rise this would also raise the level of the river. We're fortunate to have tall banks along the river in many sections but not all. The additional pressures of this water would probably have a large impact on business in Medford Square, with water pushing into basements and claiming back land along the lower laying areas in several neighborhoods. What about homes within a proximity to the river? How can we protect these areas? Levy's? We remember the politics involved with the levy's of New Orleans. Can we shore up  our riverfront? We're lucky to be inland from the ocean but what about places like Boston with much of the Back Bay on reclaimed landfill. How will we feel when our tax dollars are needed to fortify Boston against the rising tides? We're fortunate not to have many homes with flooding risks other than from poor construction or small geographic anomalies. What happens though if as these water levels rise flood zones are recalculated as they were in 2012 and large flood zones come to Medford? This could pit neighborhoods against each other. People in the Hillside & Fulton Heights vs. Wellington, West Medford and Medford Square would all have different opinions as to how to handle these new challenges & burdens.

Another question that comes to mind is homebuying with an eye towards future livability. In the past I have looked at topographical maps with homebuyers to see how a neighborhood is graded to better understand how water might move through a property when drainage is an issue. How attractive will homes be as more and more homebuyers start looking at sea level elevation as an important measure if they're thinking of staying in a home for 50+ years? Remember the Mother's Day Storms from a few years ago? It was touted as a "once in 300 year storm" but the one in a long while storms are becoming more and more prevalent. Medford has fared quite well when it comes to these issues so far. Forcasting the future is imperfect but we must be mindful of what could happen.

I choose not to engage in the politics of climate change. Everyone has their own opinion and they're entitled to it. If you believe in climate change then this is something to think about & urge your leaders to plan for. If you don't believe then you can sit back and realize that these are just words on a page. Personally I'd rather plan for the worst than be horribly surprised.

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