Research on Sea Gates

Assess and research the environmental, logistical, and equity issues along with economic costs and benefits that large scale sea gates and barriers would bring to our region.


Does sea level rise limit functional life of storm barriers ?

If sufficient money is spent, storm surge barriers could be built high enough to keep out storms for quite some time, even under conditions of sea level rise. But the functional life time of such barriers will be limited by sea level rise (SLR) for other reasons: Barriers must be kept open for most of the time to let the river waters (from the Hudson, Raritan, Passaic, Hackensack Rivers) out into the ocean. But once sea level rise exceeds current sea levels by 5 to 10 feet, then when during the open times the waters on either side of the barriers equalize, those sea levels will start to inundate settled lands even during the low astronomical tides each day, almost regardless of weather and storm conditions. While the barriers may still be effective to keep extreme storm surges out of the estuary, they will not be able to keep out the rising seas (unless you think we can pump out the waters from the rivers over the barriers and "lift them up" into the ocean. Now that would be a fine green-house gas emission machine !) I would like to see modeling done, to find out at what SLR the barriers become disfunctional in the sense that low lying areas in the estuary would get seriously become inundated, given the land topography in the areas behind the barriers. I submit that in my village where I live (Piermont NY on the Hudson) it will only need about 4 ft of SLR before portions of the village will be inundated at LOW TIDE (!!!). According to NPCC's RIMS SLR model, that would be by about the 2080s. By then, storm surge barriers could become useless at low tide conditions every day, although they still may function to keep out extreme high surges a few days every year. Given these conditions, are barriers worth their money, or should we spent the latter on managed retreat and/or modifying our city to accommodate the rising seas?

study it all!

Having the Corps and also research institutions study the storm surge barriers is a no-brainer. Damages from Sandy in NYC alone were roughly 50 billion dollars ... why not spend ten million on research into solutions? And let's broaden the conversation on grey infrastructure solutions to include innovative/leftfield options such as polders (large pumped-out parks below sea level that can be allowed to flood during a storm), invisible underwater barriers that rise up out of the sea bed and just partially block the water column, to reduce the surge, ... or whatever else people can come up with.

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