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Racine to invest equivalent of $500 per resident to improve water capacity: Mayor blames climate change

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Shoreline Erosion - Aerial View June 2020

This June 2020 aerial view of Racine County's Lake Michigan shoreline, picturing both unmitigated and mitigated erosion areas, was taken during a flight with local aviator Michael Haubrich.

RACINE — The city is planning to spend more than $40 million to upgrade storm and wastewater utility capacity in order to better handle massive downpours, such as the once-in-a-century storm that ravaged the southeastern Wisconsin lakefront in January 2020.

According to a report from the Environmental Law & Policy Center, storms like the one Racine experienced earlier this year — especially in places along major bodies of water like oceans or the Great Lakes — are going to become more common.

"Climate change is causing significant and far-reaching impacts on the Great Lakes and the Great Lakes region," the report states. "In recent years, our planet has experienced some of the warmest temperatures ever recorded, record-breaking weather extremes, powerful storms, increasing tragic flooding from rising sea levels and associated storm surge, huge wildfires, and continued melting of glaciers and polar sea ice. The accelerating pattern of changes in the Earth’s climate is affecting the Great Lakes."

The report continues: "Heat waves have become more common since the 1960s, while extreme cold temperatures have generally decreased. Intense summer storms occur more often as temperatures rise."

Mayor Cory Mason

Mason

Of the $40 million price tag which may still grow, “that’s more than 500 dollars for every man, woman and child in this city,” Mayor Cory Mason said Tuesday. “Climate change is already happening. And it is very expensive. Moving forward, the city will need to do two things at once when it comes to climate change: Rebuild our infrastructure to be more resilient to the intensity that climate change is already bringing to our shores and investing in infrastructure to reduce the carbon produced in the city by 50% by 2030 and eliminate it by 2040.”

Mason advocated for passage of Biden administration proposals that would provide millions to communities like Racine to “de-carbonize” the economy by 2040. “Should those plans come to pass, Mason said, “Racine will have a robust plan to try to reduce our carbon footprint and its contribution to climate change.”

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