News Release, Charles County Public Information Office
Annapolis, Md. (January 15, 2020) Today, leaders representing the City of Annapolis and Anne Arundel, Charles, and Queen Anne’s counties presented information about their efforts to develop climate resilience strategies and financing plans in partnership with the University of Maryland’s Center for Global Sustainability.
The local government leaders joined Maryland State Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp and Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles to discuss a regional approach to address threats from climate change and how to best prepare communities to be sustainable and resilient.
Over the past several months, the Center for Global Sustainability has been working collaboratively with these local governments, hosting joint workshops to identify unique, valuable assets within each jurisdiction. County workgroups also identified specific weaknesses and vulnerabilities that could impact county assets, such as the sea-level rise and extreme weather events. Climate resilience is generally defined as the ability to prepare for, recover from, and adapt to climate change impacts. Each county’s workgroup developed action items to address these vulnerabilities based upon local priorities. The University of Maryland is currently writing reports for each county and will assist them in developing financing strategies to pay for the implementation of their plans.
State Senator Sarah Elfreth (District 30) and Delegate Brooke Lierman (District 46) also addressed attendees to discuss pending state legislation that would allow local governments to establish resilience financing authorities. A state-enabled resilience authority would allow local governments to leverage public funding and private investment to dedicate to capital projects designed to protect communities and infrastructure from the effects of climate change.
Highlights from Anne Arundel County
“With more than 530 miles of tidal shoreline, and many low-lying communities, Anne Arundel County is on the front lines of climate resilience,” said County Executive Steuart Pittman. “And in our battle against climate change, collaboration is key and partnerships are essential. None of us can do this alone. It will take all of us working together so I am pleased to be part of this effort.”
Mr. Pittman used his remarks to discuss recent policy initiatives in Anne Arundel County related to climate resilience. He highlighted county legislation that passed unanimously in November, strengthening forest conservation protections in the county. He also announced that capital projects in the upcoming fiscal year 2021 budget will be evaluated through a lens of climate resilience and that the county will be installing six electric vehicle charging stations in the coming months. Pittman spoke in support of the Elfreth/Lierman resilience authority legislation, and the importance of giving local governments the tools they need to put resilience systems in place.
Highlights from Charles County
“Charles County has been at the forefront of climate resilience efforts,” said Commissioner President Reuben B. Collins, II, Esq. “We have taken important steps to preserve land and protect our natural and water resources. We are embracing partnerships with our community and collaboration with other county leaders because our collective efforts will be essential to help us mitigate the impacts of climate change in the future.”
County Administrator Mark Belton provided an overview of Charles County’s strategies for community education and engagement. Belton shared how the county prioritized the preservation of its land and water assets to minimize the potential impact of climate change. Last year, Charles County earned the National Marine Sanctuary designation for Mallows Bay on the Potomac River, the first such designation in Maryland. Charles County’s focus on planning for climate change has led to direct and positive impacts on the county’s bottom line. One of the leading bond rating agencies, S&P, stated that Charles County’s AAA credit rating affirmation was influenced by the county’s work to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
Highlights from Queen Anne’s County
“Queen Anne’s County is pleased to participate in the resilience Planning and Financing with Charles County, Anne Arundel County and the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy,” said County Administrator Todd Mohr. “These continuing efforts will provide a solid foundation for making appropriate financial decisions to protect vital infrastructure and property in the future.”
Queen Anne’s County Commissioners formed the climate resilience workgroup in September 2019 to prioritize resilience strategies and identify financing options with other partner counties. In his remarks, Mr. Mohn spoke about the importance of climate resilience for rural communities. He emphasized that, while some initiatives have been directed by State and Federal legislation, Queen Anne’s county is pursuing much coastal resilience planning efforts voluntarily. The county is guided by its March 2016 Sea Level Rise and Coastal Vulnerability Assessment and Implementation Plan. This document assesses infrastructure upgrades on Kent Island and the impacts of sea-level rise and coastal vulnerability and informed the resilience planning sections of the 2018 Hazard Mitigation Plan. Queen Anne’s County is a member of the Eastern Shore Climate Adaptation Partnership and is working with its partners to draft a Nuisance Flooding Plan.
Highlights from City of Annapolis
“Sea level rise stresses the need for partnerships,” said Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley. “The City has partnered with Historic Annapolis, the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, Anne Arundel County, and other state and federal partners such as FEMA and the Naval Academy. We are grateful for the efforts of Senator Elfreth and Delegate Lierman for their sponsorship of state legislation to allow local jurisdictions to establish resilience financing authorities. These partnerships will allow us to move forward in our efforts to ensure a resilient capital city.”
For the past six months, the City of Annapolis staff has been evaluating the City’s assets to determine what actions and financing are necessary to mitigate the risks and threats of climate change. Annapolis’ historic downtown is directly vulnerable to sea-level rise, and the City has developed short-term, mid-term, and long-term measures to address tidal flooding. On Tuesday evening, the City Dock Action Committee unveiled its consensus plan for the redevelopment of City Dock. This plan will ensure the crown jewel of Annapolis is a beautiful public space for families, residents, and tourists to gather that is also resilient to tidal flooding.