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Hudson River Climate Resilience Case Studies

Hudson River Climate Resilience Case Studies

The Hudson River Estuary Program is assisting four riverfront communities-Catskill, Kingston, Piermont, and Stony Point-to understand and prepare for the risk of future floods. These Flood Resilience Task Forces are community-driven. Each municipality convened a task force to study climate and flood-projections, analyze local vulnerability assessments, and propose solutions for flood adaptation. This page outlines key issues and solutions identified in each community. A more detailed overview of the Task Force process follows at the end of this page.

Each Task Force culminated in a final report with specific recommendations to improve flood resiliency in the municipality. Of the communities' 91 total recommendations:

  • 10 recommendations have been completed
  • 19 recommendations are in process
  • 11 recommendations are started and on-going

Many common adaptation opportunities were identified in all four communities:

  • Enhancing emergency management and developing and securing evacuation routes;
  • Communicating with community members about flood preparedness;
  • Developing long-term plans for at-risk municipal infrastructure; and
  • Evaluating zoning and building codes and identifying policy to reduce vulnerability.

Financing Waterfront Resilience

The 2019 New York State grants have been announced-view our roundup of more than $150M in funding assistance that can be used toward adapting Hudson River waterfronts to flooding, sea-level rise, and other climate risks: 2019 Financing Waterfront Resilience Fact Sheet (PDF).

Catskill Waterfront Flooding Task Force

The Challenge: Balancing Revitalization Goals with Increasing Flood Risks

image of the ten-member Catskill Flood Resilience Task Force
The Catskill Flood Resilience Task Force (L. Murphy)

"Regardless of the debate over the causes of sea level rise, and the ranging possibilities of its rate, we needed to go through this process of planning for what's become a new normal of larger storms and the flooding they bring… The most important outcome of this is the new relationships, opportunities, and friendships that have been cultivated throughout this process."

- Vincent J. Seeley, President, Village of Catskill

Aerial view of docks, recreation areas, and infrastructure
Aerial view of docks, recreation areas, and infrastructure,
in flood risk areas of Catskill (J. Anzevino)

The Catskill Task Force was led by Scenic Hudson and the Consensus Building Institute with assistance from Catalysis Adaptation Partners.

  • Catskill incurred $3 million in damage to structures during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy
  • Flood resiliency must be linked with economic development of Catskill's downtown area
  • Landowner using adaption strategies to retrofit his working barn for flooding

Download the Catskill Task Force Final Report (PDF, 10 MB).

Recent Successes

  • Registered all residents with Code Red, a county emergency alert system.

Projects Underway

  • Drafting an action plan to implement recommendations
  • Drafting a handbook for landowners on best practices to manage flood risk
  • Installing high water mark signs on bridge

Piermont Waterfront Flooding Task Force

The Challenge: Reimagining a Village Connected and Exposed to the River

aerial photo of Piermont pier and marsh
Aerial view of Piermont Pier housing development (J. Anzevino)

"Piermonters are wedded to the Hudson… we enjoy the river at its best - wondrous, tranquil, and benevolent. We have also borne its fury, overwhelming its banks in nor'easters and tropical storms." - Chris Sanders, Mayor, Village of Piermont

The Piermont Task Force was led by Scenic Hudson and the Consensus Building Institute with assistance from Catalysis Adaptation Partners.

  • Piermont is a village on the lower Hudson River, nestled between the Tappan Zee Bridge and the Piermont Marsh and mouth of the Sparkill Creek.
  • Piermont is highly exposed and at-risk to sea-level rise and flooding. Models estimate that the village could experience a minimum of $192 million in cumulative flood damage by 2100 if no action is taken.
  • During Hurricane Sandy in 2012, 150 homes were flooded, and Piermont suffered more than $20 million in damages. Many business were forced to remain closed for weeks or months.
group photo of the 15 member Piermont Task Force
The Piermont Flood Resilience Task Force (J. Anzevino)

Download the Piermont Task Force Final Report (PDF, 11 MB).

Recent Successes

  • Board of Trustees unanimously adopted final report and recommendations and established the Piermont Waterfront Resiliency Commission (PWRC)
  • Received a $35,000 Department of State (DOS) grant to include flood resilience in the update of their Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan

Projects Underway

  • Working with first responders to write a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan

Stony Point Waterfront Flooding Task Force

The Challenge: Evaluate NY Rising Recommendations in the Context of Sea-level Rise

image of a flooded roadway/parking lot and storm damaged structure
View of flooded road in Stony Point following Hurricane
Sandy in 2012 (L. Konopko)

"Stony Point is a vibrant and connected riverfront and hillside community. Our Vision is to preserve our town's history and protect our people and our natural resources while making the community more resilient in the face of future hazards and attracting visitors to ensure an ecologically sound and economically strong future for the people of Stony Point." - Stony Point's Community Vision for NY Rising Program

The Stony Point Task Force was led by Turner Miller Group and Great Ecology.

  • Community completed a broad study of flood-risk and adaptation recommendations through the NY Rising program
  • Task Force charged with analyzing sea-level rise projections to improve upon their NY Rising Plan and recommended Implementation Projects
  • Evaluated alternatives for managing flood-risk to properties on Grassy Point

Download the Stony Point Task Force Final Report (PDF) and the Stony Point NY Rising Plan (PDF, 11.6 MB).

Recent Successes

  • Passed new waterfront zoning that calls for applicants to factor new Advisory Base Flood Elevations (ABFEs) and sea level rise adaptation into site design

Projects Underway

  • Beginning design process for shoreline improvements to ensure emergency access on key roads

Kingston Waterfront Flooding Task Force

The Challenge: Protect Kingston's Historic Downtown Waterfront and Wastewater Treatment Plant from Frequent Flooding

a group of citizens around a table at a town meeting with papers and maps in hand
Community members mapping flood experiences at
Kingston's Flood Resilience Task Force kick-off meeting
(Poughkeepsie Journal)

"The findings and recommendations of the Task Force will be instrumental in the implementation of the Climate Action Plan's recommendations as well as contributing directly to the City of Kingston's new Comprehensive Master Plan...part of our effort to improve the quality of life in the City of Kingston and continue to grow as a sustainable community… We have a tremendous opportunity to be a "model" of sustainability, not only for the Hudson Valley but for the entire State of New York." - Shayne R. Gallo, Mayor, City of Kingston

The Kingston Task Force was led by a team including Scenic Hudson, the Consensus Building Institute, Catalysis Adaptation Partners, NYS Department of State, and the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve.

  • Kingston has a robust and historic waterfront area that includes the wastewater treatment plant serving the city's 25,000 residents.
  • Flooding is not uncommon in Kingston's waterfront area as it is vulnerable to flood waters on three sides: from the Rondout Creek; from storm surge and sea-level rise on the Hudson River; and stormwater runoff resulting from development.
  • The City incurred $2.3 million in damage from Hurricane Sandy. if no action is taken, nearly $50 million in flood damage is projected by 2070.

Download the Kingston Task Force Final Report (PDF, 23 MB).

Recent Successes

  • City Council unanimously adopted Task Force final report and recommendations
  • Received $60,000 DOS grant to include flood resilience in update to their Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan
  • Received $25,000 EFC grant to examine long term adaptive planning of wastewater infrastructure

Projects Underway

  • Incorporating Task Force recommendations into the new Comprehensive Master Plan and Brownfield Opportunity Area Implementation Plan
view of the Rondout Creek in Summer flowing towards the mainstem Hudson.
The Rondout Creek flowing into the Hudson River
next to the City of Kingston's Downtown (D. Case)

The Flood Resiliency Task Force Process

The Task Force process was piloted in the City of Kingston in 2013 to help the community make well-informed decisions to achieve a more resilient waterfront. The successful pilot was then replicated in three additional Hudson Riverfront communities in 2014 (Catskill, Piermont, and Stony Point). The objectives of each Task Force are to:

  • Engage the community in developing a vision and recommendations for a more resilient waterfront.
  • Pilot tools to assess risks and vulnerabilities.
  • Evaluate adaptation strategies.
  • Analyze the costs and benefits of selected strategies.
  • Recommend general and neighborhood-specific strategies to reduce flood damage.

Each Task Force met for approximately eight months and was guided by a planning team that included the Hudson River Estuary Program.

Flood Adaptation Tools Used by the Task Force
Scenic Hudson's Sea Level Rise Mapper showing areas on Kingston's waterfront that are vulnerable to sea level rise flooding
(Scenic Hudson's Sea Level Rise Mapper
- link on right)

Scenic Hudson's Sea-Level Rise Mapper

The Sea Level Rise Mapper helps communities see future areas of flooding and permanent inundation due to sea-level rise. To use this mapper, please see the "Sea Level Rise Mapper" link found on the right-hand column.

Coastal Adaptation to Sea Level Rise (COAST)
COAST is a sophisticated economic analysis tool that allows for visualizations of the costs of flood damage under different adaptation scenarios. DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program funded the use of the COAST tool.

The Task Force's Final Report and Future Steps

The work of the Task Forces culminates in a final report delivered to municipal decision-makers. The report includes detailed recommendations on how the municipality can become flood resilient through various planning, operations, public outreach, and emergency management activities in the short and long terms. In addition, the report details site-based recommendations examining each stretch of the community's waterfront considering:

  • Where shoreline protection may be needed
  • Where natural shorelines and innovative architecture might be combined to create resilient neighborhoods
  • Where wetlands and high water should be allowed to migrate inland to safeguard the natural resources of the Hudson

The Hudson River Estuary Program will continue to provide technical assistance to Task Force communities' efforts to implement final recommendations and create safer flood-resilient waterfronts. Furthermore, these communities are now better-positioned to apply for funding from state and federal sources. You can download our fact sheet on financing waterfront resilience (PDF) that includes state and federal funding resources for communities. All Flood Resilience Task Forces were completed in partnership with New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission.