MassDEP is working towards incorporating new standards into our Chapter 91 and Wetland Protection Act regulations to address coastal flooding and sea level rise (SLR).

Chapter 91

Efforts to assess and mitigate the impacts from sea level rise (SLR) on waterfront structures are underway, beginning with a review of our Chapter 91 regulations. Through regulatory revisions, MassDEP would like to incentivize efforts to enhance the resiliency of existing licensed water-dependent and non-water dependent structures and fill, as well as establish standards for new structures subject to Chapter 91 licensing requirements. An advisory group, consisting of members of state agencies (MassDEP, CZM, DCR, MDOT), NAIOP, the Mass Marine Trades Association, the insurance industry and others, met twice. The group identified the need to establish, for project planning purposes, thresholds for elevation or the degree to which flood-proofing should occur to help protect against SLR predicted for the year 2100 (current models predict SLR will be 0.7 to 6.5 feet). MassDEP is looking closely at CZM’s new document titled Sea Level Rise: Understanding and Applying Trends and Future Scenarios for Analysis and Planning pdf format of Sea Level Rise Guidance
file size 3MB  to determine what actions are appropriate to accommodate predicted SLR.

Potential Changes to Chapter 91 Waterways Regulations to Address Sea Level Rise from Climate Change

Chapter 91 Adaptation Discussion Document  docx format of Chapter 91 Adaptation Discussion Document
Chapter 91 Adaptation Stakeholder Members  doc format of Chapter 91 Adaptation Stakeholder Members
Chapter 91 Adaptation Letter  doc format of Chapter 91 Adaptation Letter

CZM StormSmart Coasts Program

Providing local decision makers with information on erosion, flooding, storms, and sea level rise and helping them connect and collaborate: The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) developed the StormSmart Coasts program to:

  1. Assist communities and people working and living on the coast by providing information, strategies, and tools to help address challenges arising from erosion, flooding, storms, sea level rise, and other climate change impacts.
  2. Promote effective management of coastal landforms, such as beaches and dunes.


An advisory group has been organized and will begin meeting soon to discuss revisions to the Wetlands Protection Act Regulations.  Specifically, the group will develop performance standards for “Land Subject to Coastal Storm Flowage,” a.k.a. the coastal floodplain.  Current literature and the state of the science will be reviewed, stakeholder interests will be identified, and recommendations of a previous advisory group on this topic will be considered for adoption or revision.  A more detailed list of actions and a schedule will be developed when the group begins meeting in April 2014.

Wetlands Flood information

U.S. EPA Flood Protection page

  1. How  coastal wetlands can reduce flooding and erosion
  2. Where wetlands are proving to be an economic asset