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Philly's first climate adaptation plan

posted Dec 2, 2015, 1:24 PM by Unknown user

PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 1, 2015 – Growing Stronger: Toward a Climate-Ready Philadelphia, the City's first climate adaptation plan. 

On Tuesday, December 1st, the Mayor's Office of Sustainability and the Philadelphia Climate Adaptation Working Group released Growing Stronger: Toward a Climate-Ready Philadelphia, the City's first climate adaptation plan.

The report, whose preparation Rodriguez Consulting contributed to, shows what kind of climate changes are coming to Philadelphia and how the municipal government is preparing for the warmer, wetter weather.

It’s expected that this new plan will help the City of Philadelphia deepen its understanding of local and regional climate risks, identify opportunities to prepare for those changes, inform the public about risks and adaptation opportunities available to the City, and build the capacity of City departments to include climate data in decisions.

During the report’s launch meeting, representatives from the Sustainability Department and Climate Adaptation Working Group were discussing how climate changes are affecting our city utilities and infrastructure and what sort of changes can be applied cost-effectively to avoid the biggest risks.
We have learned that by the end of the century the weather we have in Philadelphia may be similar to that of Georgia’s. Predictions show that although we will still experience four seasons, it’s going to be hotter and wetter.

Current state of the Schuylkill River, Philadelphia.

Although climate changes bring many risks to the city, they likewise create great opportunities to invest in new improvements.

Climate Change is also the engineer’s dilemma. It’s an engineer’s job to prepare the city for rising sea levels, more water in the sewage system, and design city infrastructure in a way that can withstand new climate conditions. Flood management didn’t exist in the 60’s, so there are lots of replacements within the city which need to be performed.

It’s important to make the right decisions regarding new developments. Installing rain gardens and green roofs can help keep stormwater from entering the sewer system and flooding basements. Thanks to them, rain water stays in the soil instead of getting to drainage systems and therefor prevents flash floods.

Working on the data collection and analysis, Rodriguez relied mostly on the Geographic Information System (GIS). GIS is an ideal tool to support sea level rise adaptation planning because it can both perform spatial analyses and produce maps to visualize results.

We also used GIS to present various scenarios of sea level rise. The Inundation maps depicting the extent and depth of inundation were developed using select climate scenarios to asses risk in the study area.  Sea level rise events of varying severity were aligned with climatology data, geospatial and topography data, asset characteristics, and demographic data to choose the modeling parameters considered most relevant for this study.

The Rodriguez team was using federal and local agencies’ methodologies to construct the data model and guide the risk analysis. To assess the risks associated with inundation, stretches of shoreline have been categorized in a GIS mapping exercise. The shoreline, flood mitigation assets, and identified assets behind the shore line can be analyzed for the risks posed by inundation.

There’s no certainty concerning climate changes and how they may affect our city. Even not knowing what the future will bring, we can take lessons from the past. Observing how previous natural disasters affected us, we can be certain of the importance of well-built infrastructure.

You can find the full report on the Mayor's Office of Sustainability’s website.

Social Vulnerability with Flooding in Philadelphia
 City Owned Assets Exposure

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About Rodriguez

Rodriguez Consulting, LLC (Rodriguez) provides innovative engineering and geospatial solutions for our Nation's infrastructure incorporating creative applications of technology. Our team of professionals specializes in Design (land development, redevelopment, site retrofits), Infrastructure (water, sewer stormwater, roadways), Geospatial (GIS, GPS, LiDAR, land surveying) services.  Rodriguez is a certified SBA 8(a), minority-owned (MBE) and disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) established and incorporated in 2007.  Learn more at or @rodriguez_llc