WASHINGTON (WPRI) — Warren Town Manager Kate Michaud was in Washington, D.C. Wednesday advocating for federal protections of coastal communities against climate change.
The U.S. Senate Budget Committee heard testimony from experts on the issue, including from Michaud, whose town has studied the economic impact of doing nothing.
The town of Warren commissioned a study in 2017 while undertaking a major waste water project to increase capacity and improve water quality. It found the viability of the facility beyond three feet of sea rise is unlikely, according to Michaud.
“The data analysis concluded that by the year 2100, three hundred and six of the area’s four hundred buildings could be lost to the rising water,” Michaud told the committee. “With three feet of sea level rise in the next 30 years, three of the town’s major roads, including the primary evacuation route, would be flooded with salt water and impassable every day at high tide.”
Warren is not the only Rhode Island coastal community facing uncertainty from rising sea levels. In just over a dozen years, neighboring Barrington will contend with several key roads flooding every month, according to experts and sea-level data projections.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sheldon Whitehouse said he’s looking at how climate change will burden the economy and the federal budget is critical.
“The consequences extend beyond real estate, much of our infrastructure, roads, bridges and military bases, ports, sits along coasts,” he said. “Unfortunately, the extent of these climate hazards is projected to grow.”