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Mystic River

A Quest for Climate Equity

Ann Rappaport

October 2018, English

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Like many rivers in urban areas, the Mystic River has experienced abuse and neglect. A history of wetlands destruction, pollution-intensive industry, dense development, inadequate infrastructure and disparities in municipal fiscal capacity and physical vulnerability combine to make climate adaptation an urgent priority and monumental challenge for cities in the watershed.

Despite progress building climate resilience, the clock is ticking. How can the distinctly different communities in the shared Mystic watershed avoid economic damage and loss of life from flooding and storm surges? And how can risk mitigation projects be funded?

The case reveals tensions between community vulnerability and capacity to act, inviting consideration of both community-centric and collective solutions. Exclusive reliance on long term adaptation is insufficient. Case users develop approaches to engage diverse groups in risk management and investment discussions and propose strategies for identifying, developing, funding and, time permitting, implementing and assessing politically palatable and technically feasible solutions.

Recommended citation: Rappaport, Ann. 2019. “Mystic River: A Quest for Climate Equity.” Case study. Cambridge, MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.


Climate Mitigation, Environmental Management, Natural Resources, Water Planning