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Town Hosts Climate Change Listening Session

by Matt Ristaino
June 27, 2019

The Town of Holliston hosted a community climate change listening and brainstorming session on Wednesday evening. During the meeting, about two dozen residents heard about the possible effects of climate change on Holliston and were encouraged to share ideas about how to combat those hazards.

The meeting was a part of the State’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) grant program. This meeting was the final part of the first phase of the program. The results of the session will be reported back to the State, and Holliston will then become a MVP-certified town. Once certified, the town will be eligible for further climate change action grants from the State.

During the first half of the session, Kara Runsten of Kim Lundgren Associates, a climate action and sustainability firm working with the town during the program, gave a presentation outlining the potential hazards of climate change for Holliston. The four major topics discussed were intense storms, flooding, drought, and heat waves.

Presentation Summary

Kara Runsten gave a presentation about the major hazards of climate change facing Holliston.

The frequency of intense, damaging storms has increased in recent years. The northeast region has seen the largest increase in damaging storms in the country, and the average annual total precipitation in Middlesex County is projected to rise by about 3.5 inches by the end of the century.

With increased intense storms comes increased intense flooding. There are concerns about how Holliston’s aging dams and water supply infrastructure can handle larger, more frequent floods.

Droughts are also a serious concern. Holliston relies on ground water for its drinking supply, the availability of which can be dramatically affected by droughts. As recently as 2016, much of Massachusetts was considered to be in an “exceptional drought.”

Rising global temperatures will have impacts here in Holliston as well. If current emissions rates are not reduced, the climate of Massachusetts will resemble that of South Carolina by the end of the century. These increased temperatures can lead to increased instances of heat-related illness and create a favorable environment for invasive species. 

Group Discussion & Action Plans

Residents discuss the impact of damaging storms on the Holliston community.

Following the presentation, residents were encouraged to share their thoughts and ask questions. Resident Susan Woodrow said that the town needs to think about sustainable and environmentally-friendly solutions to these hazards.

Although the session was focused on responses to climate change, many residents wanted to talk about efforts to mitigate or prevent its effects. Runsten said that once Holliston becomes MVP-certified, the Town is planning on using the climate action grants to fund a town-wide climate mitigation action plan.

Resident Peter Barlow said that he would like to see a grassroots movement in town devoted to developing climate mitigations strategy in the meantime.

Finally, the attendees broke out into group discussions, each focusing on one of the hazards highlighted during the presentation. Several town officials were on hand to facilitate those discussions. Residents were asked to write their answers to a series of questions on posters for each of the four major hazards, and those answers will be included in the final report that the Town sends to the State.

 

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Comments (2)

I can't imagine the fact that I burn gas in my car for 25 minutes driving from Bertuccis to the Mobil station is great for the environment

- John Ratcliffe | 6/27/19 10:23 AM

I am sorry I missed the meeting. I am very concerned about the environment and the future of our planet. Not being a home owner my contribute is very small BUT recycling is very important to me. My living space is in compliance with current federal regs. for climate change. This is top on my voting at all levels.

- JEAN MORRISSEY | 6/27/19 9:32 AM

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