City of Madison Begins Climate Resilience Planning with Support from University of Wisconsin

Monday, December 2, 2019 - 1:10pm

The City of Madison is partnering with the University of Wisconsin (UW) Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the Wisconsin Institute on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI), and UW-Extension Dane County to help make Madison a climate-ready city. Together, these partners will help the City identify the ways in which a changing climate may affect City infrastructure and operations to improve the City’s ability to more proactively plan to address those risks.

The City is also working to reduce carbon emissions through investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Planning to be a climate-ready city – a city that can adapt to anticipated climate change impacts – is the other side of the climate planning coin.

Anticipated climate changes in the region include warmer temperatures, more heat waves, more precipitation and heavier storm events. That can translate to changing impacts to the environment, health, infrastructure, and demands on City staff. These impacts can in turn require changes to disaster preparedness and budget planning.

“The City is already experiencing significant climate impacts – most notably, the increase in precipitation and flooding – and we are already starting to plan for a wetter future. Other impacts may be less obvious, but can make noticeable impacts to budgets and operations over time,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway. “With this collaboration, we will map out the most significant impacts and the necessary actions to prepare our city for the climate impacts that we know we’ll face. I feel very fortunate that our University partners are able to support the City in this effort.”

Paul Robbins, Dean of the UW Nelson Institute, sees opportunities for the University and WICCI to help Madison and other local communities to prepare for climate impacts, stating, “The Nelson Institute and WICCI are very happy to partner with the City of Madison to consider how future climate conditions will affect City operations. These are critical questions for local governments and we're especially glad to see the UW-Madison working with the City to dig into this important work.”

WICCI has also helped other jurisdictions like Milwaukee and Dane County to undergo climate-ready planning efforts, and Madison hopes to benefit from the outcomes of those efforts.

City departments will be working with University partners through April of 2020 to identify the most significant impacts that climate change may pose to City infrastructure and operations, and propose adaptation strategies to reduce risks and impacts. Findings will be reported to the Mayor, Common Council, and Sustainable Madison Committee, with implementation steps identified to act on major findings.

This process is not intended to be a one-time exercise, but rather part of a process to continually consider future climate conditions in City planning, operations, and investments.

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