Proposals for Flood “Protection” in the Hudson River Would Be Disastrous

by cleothedog

New York/Hudson Valley residents and all who appreciate and seek to protect valuable natural resources:

Today is the last day to submit your comments regarding the US Army Corps of Engineers’ proposals for in-water or land-based flood barriers in the Hudson River. (There is info at the end of this post about how to submit feedback.)

Please educate yourselves on this issue. Here are some links through Riverkeeper: and I have also written and submitted an open letter to the US Army Corps of Engineers:

Proposals for Flood “Protection” in the Hudson River Would Be Disastrous

Clearly NYC and coastal communities along the Hudson River have to grapple with the reality that severe flooding and extreme weather are and will increasingly be a danger. But imposing massive in-water barriers and/or land-based flood walls, as outlined in the majority of the proposals by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, would have disastrous short and long term consequences for those areas, as well as for the river itself.

Climate change means extreme weather and sea level rise are happening now, and will worsen in the immediate and long term future. The primary way to ‘combat’ this, if there is any, is to educate people about the reality of what is happening (the idea that NYC can really be protected—in the way conceived by these plans—for example, is false) and to develop and implement sophisticated, long-term, and adaptable solutions to river flooding—such as shoreline-based floodwalls, levees, healthy and resilient shorelines, and strategic retreat from low-lying areas. Man-made solutions imposed upon the problem that do not take these realities and the natural mechanisms and essential purposes of the river into account will not be effective, not to mention the potential danger of these mechanisms failing in a crisis and the risk of backflooding to nearby areas, including areas in the Hudson Valley and the river towns. Given the tremendous drawbacks, and because they will be ineffective, these types of misguided “protections” are naturally a waste of money. Perhaps most importantly, by restricting tidal flow and eventually cutting off the Hudson River Estuary, these measures would irrevocably change the Hudson River, which supports wildlife, hinders water contamination through tidal exchange, and betters the communities that exist alongside it. Especially now, it is our obligation to protect the health and vitality of our natural resources. The Hudson River and its ecosystem are far older and more essential than the “critical infrastructure” these measures would be trying (and failing) to protect.

In short, offshore barriers, including in-water or land-based flood barriers, with the intention of “protecting” the city, such as those in Alternatives 2-4, will be ineffective in the short term and the long term, a waste of money, and extremely destructive to the Hudson River, and—as a result—to the communities alongside it. An even basic understanding of how the river functions, how climate and sea levels are changing, and how to protect coastal areas makes this abundantly clear.

The content of Riverkeeper’s article, “Storm Surge Barriers for the NY Harbor: Army Corps Alternatives Threaten the Very Life of the Hudson River,” is critically important and essentially accurate, although we are certain to experience catastrophic effects far sooner than 2300.

Clearly it’s easier not to give people the time and information necessary to understand this (it is not difficult to understand), but it is wrong. These projects for offshore barriers—Alternatives 2-4, specifically—should not move forward. More time and energy must be given to realistic, long-term, rational, and significantly less detrimental and more effective solutions—to the extent that they exist.

According to the Riverkeeper article, the Army Corps has extended its public comment period until November 5, 2018. To submit your comments about these proposals: “Comments may be submitted to Nancy J. Brighton, Chief, Watershed Section, Environmental Analysis Branch, Planning Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, 26 Federal Plaza, New York, Room 2151, NY 10279-0090, or via email to”

You can also submit feedback through Riverkeeper’s website.

Please inform yourselves, inform others, and provide feedback! It is critically important that these proposals not move forward, and that adaptable solutions to river flooding are explored and implemented.

(I would also like to acknowledge gratitude to the Kingston Times for running a version of this letter as a letter to the editor in an earlier issue.)