Sustainable Working Waterfronts Toolkit and Final Report

The Sustainable Working Waterfronts Toolkit is a web-based portal to many resources for decision and policy makers, waterfront landowners, and waterfront users. The Toolkit contains information about the historical and current use of waterfront space; the economic value of working waterfronts; and legal, policy, and financing tools that can be used to preserve, enhance, and protect these valuable areas. The Toolkit also features detailed case studies of successful working waterfronts initiatives from communities around the country. The Toolkit is hosted by the National Working Waterfront Network (NWWN). 

In targeting decision and policy makers, the toolkit provides guidance to use of the following resources:

- If you are interested in learning more about the history of working waterfronts, the drivers of change in waterfront communities, and their economic value, it is recommended to start with the Historic Trends and Economic sections of the website.

- What communities around the country are doing to protect and preserve working waterfronts can be researched in the Case Studies section.

- To learn more about specific tools, such as grant programs, zoning ordinances, and tax incentives, explore the Financing and Law & Policy sections of the website.


The Sustainable Working Waterfronts Toolkit tools are described in detail in the 'Final Report for the Sustainable Working Waterfronts Toolkit,' published March 2013.

There are key recommendations concluding the report as related to climate change:

• Recognize the inability of local communities to address large scale drivers of change and focus federal efforts on minimizing the impact of drivers of change on working waterfronts.

• Incentivize the conversion of non-working waterfront land, particularly historic working waterfront infrastructure, back to working waterfronts.

• Develop a body of literature that analyzes the best government policies to protect current uses and the effectiveness of current programs, such as current use taxation, and identify best practices for implementation.

• Identify strategies for revitalization or protection of working waterfronts no longer in use, but with potential future use.

• Continue researching drivers of change of the nation’s working waterfronts, especially small-scale working waterfronts.

• Develop a better understanding of the impacts of environmental forces, such as storms and climate change, on the nation’s working waterfront infrastructure.

• Facilitate a national conversation about the changing nature of working waterfront drivers of change and how best to address or prepare for them.


The Sustainable Working Waterfronts Toolkit and report were developed by a subcommittee of the National Working Waterfronts Network with the financial support of the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Project Team involved staff from seven partner institutions: Coastal Enterprises, Inc., Florida Sea Grant, Island Institute, Maine Sea Grant, the National Sea Grant Law Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law, the Urban Harbors Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and Virginia Sea Grant. The Island Institute, Maine Sea Grant, and the National Sea Grant Law Center provided project leadership and coordination.

Publication Date: March 2013

Related Organizations:

  • University of Massachusetts
  • Virginia Sea Grant
  • National Working Waterfront Network (NWWN)


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Best practice


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