Adaptation to Natural Hazards and Climate Change in North Kingstown, Rhode Island

This report was developed to help Rhode Island local governments assess vulnerabilities to natural hazards, such as sea-level rise and coastal flooding, and prepare implementable coastal adaptation strategies. Strategies derived from this process can be included in local planning documents, and used to prioritize adaptation investments through local transportation and capital improvement programs. The stepwise approach described in the report was piloted in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, and is intended to provide a model for other municipalities in the state. Eight chapters walk municipalities through a process of how to assess vulnerabilities and develop adaptation strategies. Technical appendices provide spatial information and modeling that was completed to pilot this approach.

  • Chapter 2 - Provides background information on climate adaptation work underway in Rhode Island by state agencies and local governments.
  • Chapter 3 - Provides a summary of sea-level rise projections and scenario maps for Rhode Island, and describes the tools that were used to assess sea-level rise risks, including the Army Corps of Engineers Sea-Level Rise Calculator.
  • Chapter 4 - Provides a detailed summary of areas and sectors that will be impacted by sea-level rise in North Kingstown, including land use and development, transportation, municipal facilities, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, natural resources (such as wetlands), historic and cultural resources, contaminated sites, open and recreational spaces, vulnerable populations, utilities and other infrastructure.
  • Chapter 5 - Describes detailed adaptation actions for North Kingstown, including strategies for:
    • using land-use regulations to ensure that development is appropriately designed and sited with sea-level rise in mind,
    • addressing impacts to transportation infrastructure,
    • addressing risks to a range of public and private critical facilities (e.g., municipal buildings, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure),
    • preserving natural resources and ecosystems,
    • preserving cultural and historic resources,
    • cleaning up contaminated sites,
    • protecting public access and recreational spaces, and
    • addressing risks to vulnerable populations (such as elderly housing, schools and day care centers).
  • Chapter 6 - Provides a process for prioritizing investment in adaptation projects through transportation and capital improvement programs based upon severity of potential impacts, and implications for lives, infrastructure and property.
  • Chapter 7 - Provides model language for incorporating considerations of climate change in local comprehensive plans.
  • Chapter 8 - Suggests next steps for building upon this work.

The pilot project and report were developed by the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center and the Rhode Island Sea Grant Program in collaboration with Rhode Island Statewide Planning Program and Emergency Management Agency, among other partners. The project was funded by the Federal Highway Administration.


Publication Date: August 2015

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  • Assessment guide
  • Plans (other)
  • Planning guides
  • Policy analysis/recommendations

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