Camden's talking about sea-level rise

By Susan Mustapich | Aug 24, 2017
Photo by: Susan Mustapich Talk about potential affects of sea level rise on Camden Harbor is focusing on the public landing.

CAMDEN — A Watershed school study on sea level rise has added a new element to the discussion of a long-planned upgrade to the public landing at Camden Harbor.

Questions came up regarding the impact of sea level rise on any public landing upgrade after a presentation at the Aug. 15 Select Board meeting by Peter Galloway, a Camden Energy Committee member and a Watershed School student. Galloway's review of the Watershed School study, "Getting Onboard: Preparing for Sea Level Rise in Camden, Maine," depicted various sea level rise scenarios along with the corresponding impacts on structures surrounding Camden Harbor. Watershed is an independent, college-preparatory day school for students in grades 9-12 located in Camden.

The study concludes that Camden's town government is "not yet fully on board, even though this may be the biggest issue the town will face in the coming decades." The report recommends: planning ahead by learning from other more experienced towns and regions; developing funding to pay for assessment of vulnerability to sea level rise and climate adaptation strategies, and consideration of using the Highest Annual Tide plus two feet sea level rise by 2050 as a baseline for plans and developments within the next two decades.

Select Board member Alison McKellar asked if the students had looked at the plan for the redesign of the public landing. Board member Marc Ratner explained that the town's Design Team committee had looked at the report, and as a result was holding off on proposing next steps for the project.

Community Development Director Karen Brace said that T.Y.LIN International, one of the companies involved in an earlier phase of the public landing redesign project that culminated in a 2013 final report, is currently recommending that the boardwalk at the public landing will have to be elevated by 18 inches.

Brace explained, in an Aug. 18 email, that during a June meeting of the Design Team committee, a conference call was held with consultants from T.Y.LIN International, DeWann & Associates and Baker Designs, the companies that created a master plan for the public landing redesign.

"In our discussions it became apparent that the landing’s infrastructure needed to be dealt with first," Brace wrote. Infrastructure beneath the paved area on Camden's Public Landing includes a wastewater pump station, collection system and outfall pipe. There is also a pump station at Lyman Morse on the other side of Camden Harbor.

"Not only that, but a new boardwalk along the harbor front that has always been at the top of the list of improvements to the landing, would require a greater increase in elevation in consideration of flood resiliency due to storm surge and anticipated sea level rise."

In July, the Design Team discussed how to include considerations of sea level rise into the plans for the public landing, according to Brace. In August, Design Team members met with Nick Battista of the Island Institute and Bill Najpauer of Midcoast Econmic Development District, to further their understanding of the impacts of sea level rise on Maine's coast.

In May, the Maine Island Institute received a grant from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to fund a project about disaster preparedness in Maine related to sea level rise. In July, the Island Institute announced its plans to provide technical assistance to smaller towns in preparation for rising seas, in its publication "The Working Waterfront."

MCEDD is a municipally-led economic and community development organization, which serves all of Knox and Sagadahoc counties and the towns of Lincolnville, Northport, Searsmont, Belmont, Brunswick, Harpswell and the city of Wiscasset.

Brace said Aug. 18 that the 2013 study was conceptual in nature, but before above-ground improvements can be made, planning for sea level rise will first have to consider underground utilities around Camden Harbor. She said the project is at the information-gathering and discussion stage, and that no town funds are currently being spent on planning. She said the Design Team will look at what other coastal areas are doing to prepare for sea level rise, including Bath, Boothbay, Damariscotta and Wiscasset.

The Watershed School report and the Camden Public Landing Final Report are both available to be viewed online at

Courier Publications reporter Susan Mustapich can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Aug 24, 2017 16:35

Pre-planning is good in this important matter. I am glad the good people in Camden take this seriously. Planning ahead will save time and money in the long run.

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