The City of Lowell is impacted by flooding from extreme precipitation, which is expected to worsen with climate change. To prepare for this, the city was awarded a Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Action Grant to conduct a flood mitigation assessment and develop a capital improvement plan (CIP) of the solutions identified to improve the city’s resilience. Throughout Lowell’s MVP planning process, flooding was a frequently cited hazard of concern, and the stormwater system was identified as a vulnerable local feature. Stormwater flooding is particularly prevalent in areas with poor drainage, large amounts of impervious surfaces, and undersized culverts. The Pawtucketville neighborhood, an environmental justice community surrounding Claypit Brook, is plagued by chronic flooding caused by drainage deficiencies and its location within the FEMA floodplain. Weston & Sampson worked with the city to further assess the flooding and develop the prioritized CIP. In addition, the project team was asked to develop a permitting strategy and preliminary design to replace the Stockbridge Avenue culvert that is currently failing.
Weston & Sampson completed the following project deliverables:
- Assessed 12 culverts and existing stream conditions to identify deficiencies and document existing conditions. We used the data to develop recommendations for culvert upgrades and natural habitat restoration.
- Updated a hydrologic and hydraulic (H&H) model to assess flood risk at current conditions and under climate change.
- Identified and prioritized opportunities to design nature-based, low impact development and green infrastructure stormwater controls throughout the watershed to better manage storm flows, minimize erosion, and reduce urban heat island effects.
- Prioritized projects using H&H performance metrics among other co-benefits, like impacts to environmental justice residential neighborhoods.
- Conducted an urban heat island assessment of the city, which was then used as a prioritization metric.
- Developed and implemented a comprehensive public engagement campaign, including online outreach, interviews, meetings with the neighborhood association, a survey, and providing materials in four languages.
- Completed a preliminary design of the highly vulnerable Stockbridge Avenue culvert for replacement.
- Packaged the materials into a Claypit Brook Climate Resilience Stormwater Management Capital Improvement Plan. This plan included priorities and cost estimates for all projects identified.
Key Project Features:
- hydrologic and hydraulic (H&H) modeling for climate resilience
- flood mitigation
- urban heat island assessment
- green infrastructure
- MVP grant support