by Mary Monahan, Associate | Director of Business Development
Floods, nor’easters, droughts, beach erosion…Massachusetts cities and towns are subject to a host of public safety, environmental, and financial threats brought on by climate change. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs have created the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program (MVP) to empower and assist communities prioritize and reduce local climate change risks. Fuss & O’Neill has assisted 16 communities secure MVP planning grant assistance and we have assisted five of these MVP communities secure more than $700,000 in grant assistance from the new MVP Action Grant.
The MVP planning grant provides funding for communities to hold Community Resilience Building Workshops to identify and prioritize climate change threats to infrastructure, environment, and society. Local stakeholders participate in these workshops and contribute to the development of priorities, which include immediate and long-term actions to build local resiliency. Eight professionals from Fuss & O’Neill (with experience in local government, environmental services, civil site engineering, water quality, and emergency management) are certified MVP providers and facilitate these workshops. MVP communities have access to MVP action grants to fund their priorities. MVP communities also realize increased competitiveness when applying for funding of these priorities through other state-funded grant programs.
Through the MVP workshop process, stakeholders identified both common and locally unique climate change vulnerabilities and strengths. Common to most was flooding associated with increased storm intensity and undersized culverts and bridges. Other communities prioritized the expanding beaver habitat, drought, lack of an expansive drinking water distribution system, fire protection (especially from forest fires), lack of backup power for critical infrastructure, and green power solutions. While many communities identified infrastructure as a key climate change strength or vulnerability, priorities for climate change risks and resiliency also targeted societal and environmental sectors.
Governor Baker, EOEEA Secretary Matthew Beaton, and Assistant Secretary of Climate Change Katie Theoharides are to be commended for recognizing that climate change, while global in its impact, is local with respect to risks and response. These grants provide Massachusetts communities with the information and resources they need to protect their communities from climate change.
For more information about the Municipal Vulnerability Program, visit:
About the Author:
Mary Monahan is a municipal public works specialist well-versed in issues related to stormwater management; wastewater collection and treatment; drinking water supply, treatment, and distribution; solid waste management; and sustainable operations. Mary serves as a liaison between the public works project owner and the design team. She has helped communities successfully apply for more than $20 million in assistance from various programs, including USDA Rural Utilities Service, State Revolving Fund, Chapter 90, MassDEP 319 and 604b grant programs, Coastal Zone Management, Community Development Block Grant, and Massachusetts Green Communities grant program. Mary works with the project teams to develop public education and outreach programs for print, web-based, and video mediums.