- Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
- Department of Fish and Game
- Division of Ecological Restoration
Media Contact for State and Local Officials Highlight Climate Resilience Efforts in Southeastern Massachusetts
Craig Gilvarg, Press Secretary
Middleborough — Today, Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, state and local officials, and project partners gathered to tour the Assawompset Pond region and discuss a project led by a state, regional and local partnership to reduce future flooding, increase resilience to climate change, and restore habitat for fish and wildlife.
“The Assawompsett Pond region is a critical natural resource for Southeastern Massachusetts, offering valuable habitat, drinking water and outdoor recreational opportunities to residents,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Climate change is expected to worsen flooding issues in this area, and this state and local partnership will ensure the region is prepared for climate change while protecting public safety and wildlife habitat.”
“Flooding doesn’t limit itself to town boundaries, so regional planning is essential,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “This project highlights the importance of working with communities and local stakeholders on vital local projects to create a more resilient Commonwealth for generations to come.”
Flooding is a frequent issue at the Assawompset Ponds Complex (APC) and along the Nemasket River. Past flooding events have caused evacuations, property damage, failures of septic systems, and interruption of critical utility and road infrastructure. Climate change is expected to make flooding worse in the APC and a comprehensive plan is needed to alleviate flooding issues. The APC provides drinking water for the Cities of Taunton and New Bedford. Flooding in the APC impacts the towns of Middleborough and Lakeville. In addition, the Nemasket River and APC are also one of the most significant river herring runs in the Commonwealth. Flood management decisions must be planned and carried out by these stakeholders and technical experts working together.
“As we’ve seen through our nation-leading Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program, locally led and regionally based climate adaptation planning and implementation is critical to ensuring climate and flooding resilience,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Here in the Assawompset Pond region, state agencies, technical experts, and regional stakeholders have all come together to form a comprehensive plan to upgrade infrastructure and use nature-based solutions to address flooding issues.”
In December 2019, the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) awarded $100,000 to the Southeastern Regional Planning & Economic Development District (SRPEDD) to design a floodwater management program. DER then worked with SRPEDD to convene a team of state and NGO technical experts and a committee of municipal and other stakeholders to identify and prioritize potential flood mitigation actions in the Pond Complex and Nemasket River. The stakeholder team identified six priority projects for managing flooding, including dam and fish ladder upgrade and repair, culvert upgrades, and wetland restoration. The group is now securing funding to carry out the priority projects. All of the projects will build community resilience to climate change, improve public safety, and restore habitat for fish and wildlife.
The Assawompset Pond flood management planning project underscores the importance of regional planning for floodwater management and the importance of integrating nature-based solutions into climate adaptation.
DER’s mission is to restore rivers and wetlands for the benefit of people and the environment. DER works statewide with local, state, and federal partners to plan and carry out projects that help people and nature adapt to climate change. These river and wetland restoration projects create jobs, help communities address aging road and water infrastructure, and improve access to the outdoors for recreation.