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Capital Region News

Albany County advances climate resiliency plan

Albany County and its partners will be analyzing and improving the resilience not just of hard infrastructure like roads and bridges, but also economic systems, ecosystems, health and social services, and the housing stock.
Jesse King / WAMC
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Albany County and its partners will be analyzing and improving the resilience not just of hard infrastructure like roads and bridges, but also economic systems, ecosystems, health and social services, and the housing stock.

Albany County is advancing its Climate Resiliency Plan forward.

County Executive Dan McCoy's office is developing a Climate Resiliency Plan for Albany County to address risks and vulnerabilities associated with an increase in frequency and severity of storms, sea level rise, flooding, and other climate-related hazards.

The county held its first two virtual public meetings on November 16th, led by Liz Podowski King, Project Manager at Bergmann Architects, Engineers and Planners. The agency was retained to provide technical support through the entire planning process during the year-long project.

“Climate change is happening in Albany County, climate change is happening across the globe," King sad. "And this is really not only just a global issue where, we've seen already, action taken across the globe, action taken at the state level through the climate leadership and Community Protection Act, as well as the Community Risk and Resilience Act. And the climate report that was published in 2011 and 2014, to really provide more customized projections to New York state, as well as the county has begun to take action in terms of participating in the Clean Energy Community Program through NYSERDA.”

Albany County and its partners will be analyzing and improving the resilience not just of hard infrastructure like roads and bridges, but also economic systems, ecosystems, health and social services, and the housing stock.

King noted that all of the severe weather impacting the county has been changing in terms of intensity, and frequency and duration over the last couple of decades, with a perceptible impact.

“Things like sea level rise, extreme precipitation events, coastal storms, extreme temperature, heat waves, drought, and working to understand what effects these climate change stressors will have on the county as a whole." King said. "And really the systems that define the county, from the economic systems and the businesses that provide a really high quality of life for the county, to the infrastructural system, like transportation, roads, rail, ports, that really support the distribution of goods and services and mobility of county residents, to natural and cultural resources, housing, and also, you know, looking through a lens, a specific lens of how climate change stressors are also potentially disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations.”

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area, Albany County has 77 miles of roadway, 156 bridges and 20 miles of railroad that are at risk of flooding. That analysis also shows 19% of residential land for housing and 55% of agricultural district land are similarly at risk during extreme weather events.

King says developing an asset inventory along with funding source identification is part of the planning process, and the ultimate goal of the plan itself is to leave the county with a comprehensive list of projects toward achieving climate resiliency.

“As we identify the projects and develop them, we'll be providing information in terms of cost estimates phasing additional studies necessary to implement the project so that the county really is armed with all the information they need to go and apply for additional grant funding and other sources of funding to implement these projects,” said King.

Luke Rogers with the Albany County Executive’s Office says community participation is critical.

"Public input on this project really is going to drive how we develop the vision inventory and eventually the project," Rogers said.

Rogers asks residents to monitor the county's website for more information on future virtual meetings and how to get in touch with project developers.

The project is expected to deliver its final report by August 2022.

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