Marquette Area Climate and Health Adaptation Plan gets national recognition

The storm drain north of Lakeview Arena in Marquette is pictured. The city of Marquette worked with the Superior Watershed Partnership to manage and treat the stormwater coming through in the area, which led to a reduction in bacteria counts at the drain’s outflow at the beach, officials said. This infrastructure intervention, which addressed health impacts of a water-related issue, is an example used in the Marquette Area Climate and Health Adaptation Plan to show how climate-related health issues can be addressed. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Area Climate and Health Adaptation Plan)

MARQUETTE — Water. Air quality. Emergency response and extreme events. Vector-borne diseases.

Addressing and planning for these community-identified health and climate-related issues has been the focal point of the Marquette Area Climate and Health Adaptation Plan, which aims to mitigate the impacts of climate change on human health in the area through strategic infrastructure interventions.

The plan has garnered attention at the national level recently, as Marquette is one of 18 communities highlighted for its use of “scientific information to adapt to climate change impacts and/or reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” in a new American Association for the Advancement of Science website and report titled “How We Respond.”

“Researchers and writers at AAAS want to tell positive stories about how communities are actively and effectively responding to climate change at the local, state and regional levels, and demonstrate the critical role of science and scientists in informing these activities,” Brad Neumann, senior extension educator at Michigan State University Extension, said in an email. “I think they were looking for novel approaches and unique partnerships for addressing climate change at the local level. Our project has been somewhat unique with the interface of climate experts/scientists, planners and public health officials, and our efforts focus on both adaptation and mitigation. I think being highlighted in the report is a testament to how proactive the Marquette area is on the topic of climate adaptation.”

The three-phase project, which began in spring 2017, has been coordinated by the MSU Extension and School of Planning, Design and Construction, in conjunction with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the MDHHS’ Michigan Climate and Health Adaptation Program, Marquette County Health Department, Marquette County Climate Adaptation Task Force and the Superior Watershed Partnership.

And on Wednesday, a workshop in Marquette Township for local leaders and stakeholders will mark the start of the plan’s implementation phase.

The third volume of the Marquette Area Climate and Health Adaptation guidebook, which outlines strategies to address climate-related health risks in the area that were identified and prioritized by area residents and leaders, will be released at Wednesday’s event to guide local implementation efforts.

“With the release of Vol. III, the project moves to the implementation phase,” Neumann said. “Project participants have developed short, medium and longer-term strategies to help implement the goals in the climate and health adaptation guide. It will be the responsibility of all local governments and related agencies to collectively implement the goals.”

Workshop participants will receive an update on the plan’s progress, work to “detail short-term steps for further implementation” and learn about available funding for implementation projects; funding through the DHHS and CDC Climate-Ready States and Cities Initiative is available to help up to two Marquette County communities address health-related climate concerns, he said.

Volume III was developed with community input, Neumann said, as a meeting held in January gave local leaders a chance to come together, brainstorm and prioritize intervention strategies across the four primary climate and health action areas previously identified: water-related, vector awareness, air quality, and emergency response/extreme events.

The third guidebook builds upon the first two guidebooks, as the first volume is a visual guide featuring examples of local adaptation designs, community feedback and input, as well as sample policies and metrics, while the second volume includes specific policy recommendations and details on climate drivers and impacts, along with interventions, recommendations and assessment metrics.

While many implementation projects are still in planning phases, a project related to flood response has already been completed by the Marquette County Health Department, Neumann said.

The project, which falls under the extreme events/emergency response area, aims to give a step-by-step approach “to define and outline the public health roles and duties of Marquette County Health Department staff during emergency response to flood-related disasters,” Neumann said.

There are also projects underway that are “not necessarily the result of the Marquette Area Climate and Health Adaptation Project,” but “are consistent with what the project is attempting to advance county-wide,” such as the city of Marquette’s new land development code.

“The city of Marquette’s recent adoption of their land development code with the required natural vegetative buffer in the riparian overlay district, is an example of a change to development regulations that will help slow and reduce stormwater runoff thereby reducing the amount of nutrients and pollutants reaching our waters,” Neumann said. “With warming temperatures, there is concern about increased harmful bacteria in waterways and Lake Superior.”

To learn more about the plan or view the guidebooks, visit superiorwatersheds.org/projects/marquette-area-climate-and-health-adaptation.

To view the AAAS report, visit howwerespond.aaas.org.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal.net.


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