Press Releases

The Water Institute and partners to develop a Resilience Strategy for the City of Jacksonville

Jun 22, 2022

BATON ROUGE, La. (June 22, 2022) – The Water Institute, partners and the City of Jacksonville kicked off a resilience planning process in late May that will lead to a roadmap for adapting to climate change and other challenges the city may face in the future.

During the next 16 months, The Water Institute, along with partners SCAPE, Acuity Design Group, Inc., Halff and Fernleaf, will be working with city leadership and community stakeholders to develop a data-driven and science-based resilience strategy for the city.

Jacksonville’s coastal, river and groundwater conditions, growing population and large area present unique and complex challenges for planning in the face of climate change. The City of Jacksonville has been working to better understand and prepare for flooding and other hazards for years, but the efforts have been spearheaded by various departments spread across the administration. With the hiring of a Chief Resilience Officer last year, the city is unifying existing and future efforts under the umbrella of a single resilience strategy. The planning effort will produce a road map of actions and strategies that will help the City of Jacksonville build on their past and current work.

“The City of Jacksonville looks forward to partnering with The Water Institute on developing its comprehensive resilience strategy,” said Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Jacksonville Anne Coglianese. “The expertise brought together by this consulting team will put Jacksonville in the best possible position to not only address our city’s most urgent challenges, but also create space for opportunity and innovation to flourish.”

The planning process, led by The Water Institute, will use Structured Decision Making to bring together city leaders and community members to develop a vision of what the city should look like in the future and prioritize actions that will best get them there in the face of climate risks. Structured Decision Making combines science and policy in order to break down complex decisions and help guide communities toward finding solutions that meet clearly defined objectives. This process includes consideration of the multiple factors that determine how resilient a city can be including infrastructure, land use, housing, social vulnerability, transportation, environmental needs, the economy and more.

The team will help Jacksonville work through a process that identifies the complicated web of risks and vulnerabilities facing the city, compile the current work being done by the city and guide the community and city leaders through a process that helps them identify their opportunities for a more resilient future. Those strategies will touch on not only reduced risk of flooding or extreme heat, but will examine additional strategy benefits such as improved quality of life, neighborhood revitalization, economic development, environmental education and workforce development.

“Finding a path toward a resilient future isn’t a one-size-fits-all,” said Colleen McHugh, senior adaptation planner at The Water Institute leading the work in Jacksonville. “The challenges facing cities are a complicated mix of infrastructure, economy, social well-being, the environment and so much more. And much about the future is uncertain – from climate impacts and extreme weather events to population and economic changes. Our work is to help the city untangle this web to decide for themselves the best path forward to meet their current and future needs.”