Identifying Economic Impacts of Inundation On New York’s Lake Ontario Water Resources through Research and Engagement

Scenario Planning Workshop Report available here
Full Project Report available here
Funded by NOAA Coastal and Ocean Climate Applications/Sectoral Applications Research Program (COCA/SARP) award to Syracuse University



Lake Ontario floods on a roughly 20-year cycle; the severity of the 2017 flood left coastal communities unprepared for the immediate impacts and in need of aid for business, home, and infrastructure repair and flood response equipment. These communities lack essential knowledge to make sound investment decisions related to flood preparedness. A shift toward proactive planning and funding is necessary to reduce the economic impacts of future flood events in these communities. Recreation and tourism serve as the economic foundation for the communities in Wayne County, NY on the Lake Ontario coast or embayments that this project seeks to serve. Flooding negatively impacts the economy if the activities at its core are significantly hindered. The first step is to understand the flood risk and identify the water resources that are at risk. For this project in these communities, water resources are defined as a water-based resource, built or natural, that impact the local economy. For example, a beach has a measurable, maybe even significant, economic impact; so does the existence of drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. This project offered a comprehensive approach to supporting economic vitality in coastal communities only beginning to understand what flood resiliency means for them. The project team collected quantitative and qualitative data beginning at the parcel level up to the census-tract level and through participatory research methods by hosting workshops with stakeholder participation. Analysis of that data allowed the project team to provide recommendations that may allow communities to make investments that can make them more resilient to future flooding. The project team collected and analyzed data to identify vulnerabilities and estimate the economic impact of those vulnerabilities. These data supported the recommendations offered by this project and and will support sound, future decision-making. However, good decision-making takes uncertainties into account. The best way to address those uncertainties is to include projecting future economic and climatic conditions. The scenario-development component of this project, which GLISA led, presented a decision-making framework that was used to identify measures to ensure future resiliency.

Project Accomplishments

Environmental Finance Center
Wayne County Progress Since the Project
Scenario planning was an effective method to get participants from Wayne County communities motivated and organized in their resilience planning efforts. Recommendations developed during the workshop by participants contributed to the scoping of the NY Coastal Resilience Network to ensure local capacity and technical needs are addressed and that regional practitioners are engaged to work more efficiently with communities. NY Sea Grant also created online resources to inform flood risk and adaptation for municipal staff and tailored local government training events to focus on climate threats, flood impacts, and resilience.


GLISA’s Contribution

GLISA was a subcontractor to Syracuse University on this project. GLISA worked with New York Sea Grant at Cornell University to plan and facilitate a scenario planning workshop for residents of Wayne County, NY, in order to evaluate their vulnerabilities to coastal flooding caused by high Lake Ontario water levels.

A summary report of this workshop is available here.



Syracuse University, Cornell University, New York Sea Grant

GLISA Contact

Kim Channell, Climatologist,