Scarborough sea level rise to be studied

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SCARBOROUGH — The town is poised to examine the effects of sea level rise on town land and public and private buildings and infrastructure, following a recommendation from the Conservation Commission Wednesday night.

Peter Slovinsky, chairman of the Conservation Commission and coastal geologist for Maine Geological Survey,  said in a May 11 letter to the Town Council that Scarborough has “much at risk.”

In a joint workshop prior to the Town Council meeting May 18, Slovinsky presented data to councilors and town staff that included simulations of how coastal flooding would affect Scarborough.

Using data collected from the Saco Bay Sea Level Adaptation Working Group, also known as SLAWG, which includes Scarborough, Old Orchard Beach, Saco and Biddeford, a substantial storm that causes sea levels to rise by 2 feet could bury nearly 5 miles of road under water, Slovinsky said.

If the sea level were to rise just 1 foot in Scarborough, it would impact 2.2 miles of road in town – not to mention marshland – as well as numerous buildings in coastal flood zones.

Slovinsky proposed working with four departments – Planning and Code Enforcement, Public Works and Engineering, Fire and Rescue and Community Services – to discuss how to adapt to and potentially mitigate the shifting conditions. Once information has been gathered, which could take about a year, the plan would be to present the findings and specific recommendations to the council for adoption.

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South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.