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Towns band together to prevent flooding disasters

The Wellesley Natural Resources Commission has partnered with the Charles River Watershed Association and 14 other communities to create a tool to help protect vulnerable populations and property from flooding.

The Charles River Flood Model visualizes the impacts of increasingly severe storm events that will become more common with climate change, the commission said in a statement. It also helps communities make informed decisions about nature-based solutions to help reduce those impacts, the commission said.

“We hope this tool will promote a broader perspective and a better understanding of land use impacts across municipal borders, so we can implement the most effective and sustainable watershed solutions,” Wellesley Public Works Director Dave Cohen said in the statement.


The model found that without intervention, a projected 100-year storm in 2070 would flood up to 12,500 acres within the Charles River watershed, putting residents at risk and leaving major roads underwater, the statement said.

“By using this model, communities will better understand how to prepare for these situations and can adopt policies and practices to reduce the significant effects,” the statement said.

The model “provides the opportunity to network and discuss issues facing all of us across the watershed areas as we identify and illustrate the consequences of not doing anything and galvanize the community to act,” said NRC Director Brandon Schmitt in the statement.

Along with Wellesley and Newton, the Charles River Watershed Association includes Arlington, Dedham, Franklin, Holliston, Medway, Millis, Natick, Needham, Norfolk, Sherborn, Watertown, Weston, and Wrentham, the statement said.

In Newton, elevations in some areas and publicly owned open space along the Charles River’s banks create better buffers against flooding than in some other communities, according to Mayor Ruthanne Fuller.

But the flooding model “shows we must act,” Fuller said in a statement.

“Unless we do, Newton, like many communities in the Charles River watershed, will see increased flooding in the decades ahead,” Fuller said, including other local streams like Cheesecake Brook.


The model was funded by the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs FY21 MVP Action Grant Program.

John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.