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Long Island

DEC sea-level projections to help LI, NYC coastal plans

Long Island and New York City will be able to plan coastal projects using the state's official sea-level rise projections, under proposed new regulations.

The regulations, which should be finalized by January, are one of the first steps called for under a law enacted last year, the Community Risk and Resiliency Act, which aims to ensure future storms prove far less catastrophic than superstorm Sandy.

"Sea level projections will help state agencies, developers, planners and engineers to reduce risks posed by rising seas and coastal storms over the next several decades," Basil Seggos, acting commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, said Friday.

The DEC is using predictions from a 2014 report that forecast the Atlantic Ocean at Montauk Point will rise 2 to 10 inches after a decade or so.

By the 2050s, researchers at Cornell and Columbia universities and Hunter College predicted the ocean at Long Island's easternmost tip will rise 8 to 30 inches; 15 to 72 inches by 2100.

The projections are almost identical for New York City, and only slightly less dire for the Lower Hudson Valley. The public comment period for the new regulations ends Dec. 28.

By January 2017, the DEC must devise regulations requiring planners seeking permits or funding to show projects for wetlands, sewers, liquefied natural gas or hazardous material facilities and the like can withstand sea level rise, storm surges and flooding.

This broader rule covers coastal erosion hazard areas, such as beaches, dunes and bluffs.

Additionally, communities or groups applying for state funding for water pollution or drinking water projects, open space purchases, waterfront and other projects will have to show they factored in the same hazards, the DEC said.

Jessica Ottney Mahar, director of government relations for The Nature Conservancy, said it was "fiscally prudent" for New York State to look ahead decades.

"By taking these risks into consideration, hopefully these investments will last," she said.

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