On March 26, 2015, the State of Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development submitted an application to HUD’s Community Development Block Grant National Disaster Resilience Competition. The Phase I application focused on framing a resiliency approach for Minnesota, including identifying a target area impacted by a presidentially declared disaster during 2011, 2012, or 2013, and determining how strategies could be developed for increasing resiliency to climate change. An initial draft of the application was available for public comment from February 23-March 9. The submitted application, which was revised to take public comments into account, is available below:
Phase I Application - Submitted March 26, 2015
In Dakota Sioux, Minnesota means ‘sky-tinted water.’ Known as the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’, Minnesota ties its identity to water as it embraces a half million acres of pristine Boundary Waters flowing north to the Arctic Ocean, the headwaters of the Mississippi River flowing to the Gulf of Mexico, and the gateway to the Great Lakes flowing to the Atlantic Ocean. With 10% of the world’s accessible freshwater contained in Lake Superior, the mighty Mississippi wending through the state, and a cultural identity centered on water resources, Big Water has traditionally referred to these important environmental and economic assets.
Unfortunately in Minnesota, Big Water is gaining a new definition as the frequency and severity of storms increase due to climate change.
During 2011-2013, Minnesota has had six presidentially declared disasters (DR #s 1982, 1990, 4009, 4069, 4113) due to severe storms, flooding, and tornados. These disasters have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and have affected 70 of MN’s 87 counties, containing 90% of the state’s population. Despite the significant damage and federal assistance on infrastructure in 2011-2013, there have been no FEMA-Individual Assistance declarations in Minnesota, leaving significant stress on our most vulnerable residents, as well as on state and local resources.
Resiliency must look at creating a livable, sustainable community with access to affordable housing, a vibrant economy where all can participate, appropriate management of water and natural resources, and long-term development of energy security and community health. To accomplish this, Minnesota’s Ripples of Resilience (RoR) approach has two main components:
1) a Comprehensive Community Resiliency Formula applied across five layers of resiliency (housing, economy, resources, energy, and health) that assesses existing vulnerabilities, stressors, and recovery needs, implements prescriptive solutions, develops long-term positive community outcomes, and maximize co-benefits, and
2) a proactive decision-making process that prioritizes a solution, or develops a synergistic combination of solutions, based on its ability to create ripples of positive impact across populations, sectors, geographies, and time.
Ripples of Resilience (RoR) is Minnesota’s strategy for achieving long-term, comprehensive resilience across the state where lessons learned through a deep level of integration and strategy refinement will be applied to Minnesota communities. Ripples of Resilience will work with a cross disciplinary team to address unmet needs in the most-impacted, most-distressed target area in northeastern Minnesota that was impacted by a 500-year flood event in June of 2012. This qualifying disaster (DR-4069) caused housing, infrastructure, economic, and environmental damage that has not been fully addressed. Creating solutions, partnerships, and leverage through a multi-agency approach will not only build resiliency in the target area of Duluth, MN, but will serve as a model for other Minnesota communities and benefit regional housing options, economic vitality, energy security, and water quality.
Minnesota has already experienced the power of asking the big question, “What does a resilient state look like?” Participation in the National Disaster Resilience Competition is seen as an impetus for linking local, state, and regional conversations, identifying actionable steps that can be implemented in the next two years to increase resiliency and a pathway for future years, and establishing a framework of communication for residents to understand climate adaptation and disaster mitigation. We believe that through thoughtful investment we can address past, present, and future disaster-related challenges in a geography critical to the environmental and economic well-being of our nation, all while building long-term resilience for Minnesota families, neighborhoods, and communities. Big Water: Ripples of Resilience is designed to create a transformational approach for Minnesota and a model for the United States.
Minnesota experienced six presidentially declared disasters in 2011-2012 (DR-1982, 1990, 4009, 4069, 4113, 4131) ranging from an unseasonable winter storm in April of 2013 to severe storms, flooding, straight line winds, and tornadoes in 2011, 2012, and 2013. The total of obligated FEMA assistance dollars for these six disasters is over $100 million (Table 1). All threshold documentation can be found in the dropbox folder: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/fqbd9gf21n2gnw2/AABVj-YGxY25l7pICSGj-kfHa?dl=0 .
The Minnesota target area represents flooding and severe storm damage that occurred in June of 2012 in northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin, as 8-12” of rain fell in a 24 hour period on already saturated soils at the tip of Lake Superior (qualifying disaster DR-4069). Over 43% of FEMA dollars obligated to Minnesota due to the six declarations, and 52% of the FEMA public assistance funds, occurred as a result of this one disaster. Especially hard hit was the City of Duluth, where despite a media focus on a polar bear that was washed from enclosures at the Duluth Zoo and two escaped seals, the most significant impact was on vulnerable households in low-income neighborhoods along the St. Louis River and on the 880’ high Duluth hillside overlooking Lake Superior.
The target area identified as most impacted and distressed is in a sub-county area of St. Louis County, MN, as a result of the Minnesota Severe Storms and Flooding (DR-4069). This MID-URN defined area includes St. Louis River Corridor neighborhoods and the Hillside neighborhood of Duluth variably described as census tracts 51-(3,4,9,10,11,12,13,14, 16,17,18,19,20,22,23,24,26,29,30,33,34,36,37,38,101,102,156,157,158). This area exhibits Most Impacted and Most Distressed Characteristics which affect the ability of the area to recover without further assistance. The map of the Minnesota MID-URN target area is below.
The target area identified as most impacted and distressed is in a sub-county area of St. Louis County, MN, as a result of the Minnesota Severe Storms and Flooding (DR-4069). This MID-URN defined area includes St. Louis River Corridor neighborhoods and the Hillside neighborhood of Duluth variably described as census tracts 51-(3,4,9,10,11,12,13,14, 16,17,18,19,20,22,23,24,26,29,30,33,34,36,37,38,101,102,156,157,158). This area exhibits Most Impacted and Most Distressed Characteristics which affect the ability of the area to recover without further assistance. The map of the Minnesota MID-URN target area is below.
The following threshold documentation is identified in the NDRC-MID-URN Summary Checklist:
Most Impacted Characteristics-
Housing Damage Due to Eligible Disaster- A concentration of housing damage occurred in this area due to the eligible disaster with over 100 homes damaged and over 20 homes seriously damaged. State of Minnesota QuickStart loans are used to document this damage. QuickStart is a state disaster loan program available to households that are unable to adequately repair flood-damaged properties with proceeds from insurance, SBA loans, or FEMA Individual Assistance (when available). The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency administered this program for DR-4069.
HousingDamage.xlsx contains a listing of 127 homes in the target area receiving QuickStart assistance. A map of damaged properties can be found in DamagedQSMap.pdf. Additional homes in the target area were damaged but were either repaired through private funds, insurance, buyouts, and SBA loans, or have yet to be repaired. Each QuickStart loan required documentation that the damage was due to the disaster and verification of repair costs.
Infrastructure-Damage– Damage from the eligible disaster (DR-4069) to permanent infrastructure in a sub-county area estimated at $2 million or greater is documented in InfrastructureDamage.xlsx. The summary provides FEMA project worksheets for $3,030,875.31 related to bridges, roadway embankments, culverts, grinder pumps, walls, and storm sewers. Each project is located in the target MID-URN area. To date, grants have been awarded to the City of Duluth totaling over $41 million for infrastructure repair and environmental remediation (FoodProjectStatus2-15.pdf).
Environmental Degradation- Because of the topography of the Duluth hillside with its 883’ drop to Lake Superior and the St. Louis River, flash flooding occurred along streams damaging the stream channels, stream banks, and vegetative cover, as well as causing critical slopes to slump. A report written by the Eastern Research Group, Inc. for NOAA’s Coastal Services Center documents impact on Chester Creek’s stream channel and indicates how environmental degradation from DR-4069 puts housing, infrastructure, and economic drivers at risk from future events. Specific information can be found on pages 4-6 and 4-7 of the Economic Assessment of Green Infrastructure Strategies for Climate Change Adaptation: Pilot Studies in the Great Lakes Region (EnvironmentalDegradationNOAA.pdf).
Most Distressed Characteristics-
Disaster Impacted Low- and Moderate-Income Households– The target area reflects census tracts in which 51.68% of residents are less than 80% of the area median income (33,904/65,599). The data is from the 2006 to 2010 ACS LMI Table from HUD, summarized in LMIHouseholds.xlsx.
Loss/shortage of Affordable Rental Housing- The disaster-impacted target area has a minimum of 100 renters with income less than 50 percent of median in the target area with severe housing issues. In fact, according to the Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) 2007-2011, the target area has 4,033 renter households below 50% AMI that experience at least one of the four severe housing problems including lack of a kitchen, lack of plumbing, more than one person per room, or cost burden greater than 50%. This data is pre-disaster information. A 2014 community housing study has shown a shortage of 1,275 affordable rental units. CHAS data and housing study link are found in AffrdRentalHousingIssues.xlsx.
Disaster Impacted an Area With Prior Documentated Environmental Distress- The target area represents an area of considerable legacy contamination which has resulted in it being named as the largest Great Lakes Area of Concern (AOC). The target area also includes the largest contaminated sediment Superfund site in the United States which is on the EPA’s National Priorities List (EPA ID# MND039045430 ) for cleanup that will begin during the NDRC funding period. The state-maintained Brownfield site list has 138 active and 378 inactive Superfund, CERCLIS, Voluntary Investigation & Cleanup, Landfill, Contaminated Soil Treatment Facility, Leak Site, Air Permit, Petroleum Brownfield, Solid Waste, State Assessment, and Tank sites. A summary of these sites along with thousands of other environmental permits in the target area is summarized in BrownfieldsMN.xlsx.
Unmet Recovery Needs Threshold–
Housing- The target area continues to have over 20 houses that have not been adequately repaired. Data has been gathered by City of Duluth Emergency Management and Community Development offices, with additional compilation from disaster case management and local housing organizations involved in administering State of Minnesota QuickStart disaster loans. A survey has been conducted of these structures including 1) documentation provided that the damage was caused from the disaster, and 2) that resources from insurance/SBA/Quick Start have been inadequate to complete repairs. Addresses for the homes surveyed are provided in UnmetHousing.docx with a map of properties provided above.
Infrastructure- Damage to permanent infrastructure in which a funding shortfall exists includes the loss of the Irving Park Community Building which sustained damage exceeding its value and would have remained in a 100-year flood plain if not razed for rebuilding outside the flood plain. The replacement cost of $481,699.96 and engineering report is included in UnmetInfrastructure-Irving.pdf. Insurance and FEMA funding was unavailable for this project so a gap exists for the entire replacement cost. DR-4069 did not receive any CDBG-DR funding.
In addition to the Irving Project, there is a gap of funding for trail projects and culverts of $887,343.05 in the target area due to the unanticipated costs of rebuilding and delay in discovering the extent of damage. An engineering estimate documenting this damage along with sources and uses can be found in UnmetInfrastructure-Trails.pdf.
Environmental Degradation: The environmental degradation in Duluth was vast and varied. Documentation is provided that demonstrates environmental damage from the qualifying disaster (DR-4069) that has not yet been addressed and cannot be addressed with existing resources in the sub-county target area. Unmet environmental repairs include stabilizing a hillside that has slumped and puts housing at risk of damage from a future storm event. To resiliently stabilize the slope, an engineer has provided an estimate between $300,000 and $400,000. A certification memo after March 2014 and the original engineering report for this remaining environmental degradation can be found in UnmetEnvirDegrad-Proco.pdf.
Additionally, $1,055,000 of stream repair work remains in the MID-URN target area. The qualifying disaster (DR-4069) created incredibly high flows that resulted in significant damage to stream banks, changed stream channels, and impaired the flows threatening adjacent infrastructure. Unrepaired damage without funding sources has been documented for five trout streams that flow through the MID-URN including Chester Creek, Keene Creek, Miller Creek, Mission Creek, and Sargent Creek. A certification memo after March 2014 and report to the Minnesota Recovers Taskforce can be found in UnmetEnvriDegrad-Streams.pdf.
The severity of the qualifying disaster coupled with legacy deindustrialization issues of contamination on poverty demonstrate the MN MID-URN area is in need of NDRC funding.
Ripples of Resilience (RoR) is Minnesota’s strategy for achieving long-term, comprehensive resilience across the state where lessons learned through a deep level of integration and strategy refinement will be applied to Minnesota communities. The two main components of RoR include: 1) a Comprehensive Community Resiliency Formula applied across five layers of resiliency (housing, economy, resources, energy, and health) that assesses existing vulnerabilities, stressors, and recovery needs, implements prescriptive solutions, develops long-term positive community outcomes, and maximize co-benefits, and 2) a proactive decision-making process that prioritizes a solution, or develops a synergistic combination of solutions, based on its ability to create ripples of positive impact across populations, sectors, geographies, and time.
To curate an ecosystem of innovation, Minnesota has sought out partnerships that bring capacity, can help design solutions to existing and future vulnerabilities, and are connected to important stakeholders and populations. As specific projects are defined in Phase II, additional partners may be added.
MN Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)- DEED is the specific agency that will implement the disaster resilience activities identified in this application. DEED’s capacity includes administering over fifty state programs that comprehensively assist the state and local communities develop vibrant economies, social equity, and opportunity in a changing environment. DEED’s programs include work with vulnerable populations through Workforce Development Centers, disability services, minority business programs, and coordination of Minnesota’s Small Cities Development Program (SCDP), which oversees the distribution of CDBG funds to non-entitlement communities throughout Minnesota. DEED also advances resilience through public infrastructure funding for clean water, distributing disaster recovery funds, clean energy development, housing rehabilitation technical assistance, and innovative business development programs.
DEED’s current SCDP staff has shown previous management capacity through successful administration of approximately $5.2 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for community development projects, approximately $14 million in annual CDBG funds, and $790,000 in CDBG-DR funds from 2008 flooding and ice storms that impacted six counties. Current SCDP staff has experience with the Disaster Recovery Grant Reporting System (DRGR) through management of the 2008 recovery funds as well as previous DRGR experience through disaster recovery funds provided in 1997 and 1998. DEED’s role will be grant oversight, management of funds, and financial policy development and will coordinate with other state agencies as indicated in Attachment A – Partner Documentation. Through these strategic partnerships, DEED will be able to quickly launch and implement major projects including providing relevant project management, quality assurance, financial management, procurement, civil rights, and fair housing guidance.
City of Duluth- Approaching resilience in the NDR target area in a comprehensive and integrated manner necessitates breadth and depth of partnerships. The City of Duluth, a CDBG entitlement community, is the main general management partner. The City of Duluth has effectively managed federal funds from HUD including CDBG/HOME/ESG funds of roughly $3 million per year, two grants totaling $3.2 million in lead funds, and $2 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Funds. Community Development staff that will lead this project are experienced in consolidated and comprehensive planning, fair housing, grants management, procurement, and internal control. Assisting the Community Development Department are city finance staff, engineering, and construction services with project management experience including quality assurance, FEMA hazard mitigation cost effectiveness analysis, and quickly launching projects as evidenced by recent FEMA and State-funded disaster recovery of $41 million.
Ecolibrium3- Assisting with community connections and grant writing is the Duluth-based nonprofit Ecolibrium3. Ecolibrium3 is a place-based organization in the target area working in environmental, economic, and community development. CEO and chief grant writer, Jodi Slick, is a White House Champion of Change for Community Resilience and served as the Chair of the Regional Long-term Flood Recovery Taskforce which included a mix of formal and informal community leaders including Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOADs), government representatives, citizens, faith representatives, and nonprofit staff. Ecolibrium3 administered Duluth’s EPA Climate Showcase Communities project earning a Seeds of Change Award and is currently administering a DOE Solar Market Pathways grant to increase distributed solar generation in Duluth. Ecolibrium3 excels in applying science-based data and community strategies to create effective long-term solutions that build resiliency. Ecolibrium3 previously facilitated the Green Jobs Action Planning with 120+ community leaders in transportation, resource protection, food system development, built environment, and energy production. In addition, Ecolibrium3 specializes in community engagement through activating existing networks and informal community leadership through their role as project manager of Duluth’s entry into the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition.
Local Initiatives Support Corporation- LISC is the largest community development support organization in the country. For more than 30 years, LISC has connected local organizations and community leaders with resources to revitalize neighborhoods and improve quality of life. Duluth LISC is the final general management partner who will expand capacity by facilitating multiple stakeholders toward community solutions. Duluth LISC is the facilitator of the At-Home in Duluth Collaborative where 25 nonprofit organizations, continuum of care groups, and local government agencies focus on building sustainable communities through expanding investment in housing and other real estate, increasing family income and assets, stimulating economic development, improving access to quality education, and supporting safe, healthy environments and lifestyles. Duluth LISC has coordinated development of neighborhood plans in the NDR target area through an integrated process with neighborhood residents and has specific experience in ensuring participation by vulnerable populations. In the past 18 years, Duluth LISC has developed or preserved 1,194 units of housing, created 186 new childcare spaces, 1,273 new jobs, and leveraged over $75 million in property investment in Duluth. Duluth LISC builds neighborhood and organizational capacity through administration of HUD Section IV funds and brings revitalization and development experience to the partnership through their work and connection to LISC offices nation-wide.
Integrated Approach- As Phase I is the framing phase, the partnership mix has been established to develop and vet potential projects according to a decision-making framework and community engagement strategy that will be utilized to develop a Phase II application. One criterion for selection of projects for inclusion in a Phase II application will be the capacity of each partner and the ability to complete a project if a partner drops out. Additional criteria will include project cost reasonableness and proven history of successful project completion by sub-recipients and contractors. All general management partners have experience in fulfilling government contract expectations and managing for project performance in development projects, planning activities, and community programs.
Project partners include technical experts, community organizations, governmental agencies, and stakeholder groups. In addition, resilience team members have a range of geographies of connection and impact from neighborhood-level groups to national organizations, thus ensuring connectivity to regional impacts and opportunities. Capacity details, including expertise and project role can be found in Attachment A for the following project partners:
Housing- University of Minnesota Cold Climate Housing Program, Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, Duluth Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Housing Resource Connection, American Indian Community Housing Organization, 1Roof Community Housing, Center City Housing, Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy
Economy- Metropolitan Interstate Commission, Area Partnership for Economic Expansion, Northland Foundation, Arrowhead Regional Development Council (ARDC), Duluth LISC, Duluth Superior Port Authority, Northeast Entrepreneur Fund, MN DEED, MN Environmental Quality Board, and MN DOT
Resources- United States Army Corps of Engineers, Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments (GLISA), MN Department of Natural Resources, MN Pollution Control Agency, MN Board of Water and Soil Resources, MN Sea Grant, MN Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, St. Louis River Alliance, Minnesota Land Trust, and St. Louis County
Energy- MN Energy Transition Lab, Midwest Renewable Energy Association, Minnesota Power, Ever-Green Energy, Arrowhead Economic Opportunities Agency (AEOA), Ecolibrium3, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), Great Plains Institute (GPI), the Microgrid Institute, and the MN Center for Energy and the Environment
Health- Institute for a Sustainable Future, MN Department of Health, Community Action Duluth, Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, Duluth Community Garden Program, University of Minnesota-Duluth Sustainable Agriculture Project and the UMD Farm, St. Louis County Public Health, Zeitgeist Center for Arts and Community (Healthy Duluth Area Coalition, Fair Food Access, Churches United in Ministry).
Community Engagement Capacity- Community engagement and ensuring participation by vulnerable populations are recognized as an essential element to maximizing project impact and community resiliency. Project partners have considerable experience in community engagement from government planning processes like Comprehensive Plans and Consolidated Plans (MN DEED & City of Duluth) to integrated arts and community development work (American Indian Community Housing Organization, Ecolibrium3) at the neighborhood level, and stakeholder processes like the Climate Solutions and Economic Opportunities Process (MN EQB) and solar market pathway work (Ecolibrium3, MN Power, UMD). Other partners have established deeper relationships with the target area neighborhoods and residents through neighborhood planning (Duluth LISC) and community forums (Community Action Duluth) and bring experience in analyzing racial, economic, and environmental justice data to determine potential disparities (AEOA, City of Duluth DEED). In addition, ongoing engagement will occur through the River Corridor Coalition which represents ten neighborhoods and associated business groups in the target area including MN NDR partners. To assist in tracking throughout project implementation, the BigWaterMN.org website will serve as a portal for continued information exchange with residents.
The depth of connection and intent for effective community engagement is illustrated in the consultation process discussed in Exhibit E – Soundness of Approach and in Attachment D – Consultation Summary. To date, Minnesota has leveraged the potential of funding to create interest in dialogues on unmet needs, climate change impacts, and defining community resilience. As specific projects, programs, and/or tools are identified for a Phase II funding request, each project and partner organization will identify leverage opportunities for funding, policy, and expanded partnerships in order to maximize impact on resiliency in Minnesota and the region. To date, the City of Duluth has committed $250,000 in cash leverage per their partnership letter found in Attachment A- Partnership Documentation.
Regional or Multi-government Capacity and Overall Project Governance- A number of project partners have regional and multi-governmental experience or responsibilities. In fact, Minnesota’s framing of resilience includes at least one partner that works on each identified layer of resiliency from a multi-state level. Each proposed project for Phase II will be vetted at the local, regional, state, and, when appropriate, at the multistate level. Level of input will roughly follow the anticipated level of impact (ripple) illustrated in the Formula for Comprehensive Community Resilience found in the Executive Summary.
In order to create a smooth management process that can build regional resilience, a Resilience Steering Committee is being established to select projects for incorporation into a Phase II application, oversee the overall project implementation, to develop a long-term resilience work plan, and liaise with partners to establish opportunities for leverage, policy implementation, and cross-sector partnerships. Steering committee membership includes general management partners, representatives from each subcommittee organized by layer of resilience, and representatives of vulnerable populations. The matrix of members also includes an appropriate mixture of local, regional, state, and multi-state organizational representatives.
The National Disaster Resilience Competition is building local and state capacity in resilience by helping Minnesota create a strong action-oriented team that has had to work together to define a clear Ripples of Resilience framework and engaging multiple sectors.
Ripples of Resilience (RoR) is Minnesota’s strategy for achieving long-term, comprehensive resilience across the state where lessons learned through a deep level of integration and strategy refinement will be applied to Minnesota communities. The two main components of RoR include: 1) a Comprehensive Community Resiliency Formula applied across five layers of resiliency (housing, economy, resources, energy, and health) that assesses existing vulnerabilities, stressors, and recovery needs, implements prescriptive solutions, develops long-term positive community outcomes, and maximize co-benefits, and 2) a proactive decision-making process that prioritizes a solution, or develops a synergistic combination of solutions, based on its ability to create ripples of positive impact across populations, sectors, geographies, and time. RoR has been developed to address multiple needs in the State of Minnesota.
The RoR approach is predicated on creating transformational change in the Minnesota target area while establishing a clear pathway for advancing state and regional resiliency. The MID-URN characteristics exhibited in the MN target area are described in Exhibit B–Threshold. This documents the impact of flooding and severe storm damage that occurred in June of 2012 in northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin (DR-4069), as 8-12” of rain fell in a 24-hour period on already saturated soils at the tip of Lake Superior, as well as the remaining damage in LMI neighborhoods of Duluth, MN (target area).
Although during 2011-2013, Minnesota had 6 presidentially declared disasters, 52% of FEMA Public Assistance funds granted to Minnesota during that time period occurred as a result of this one disaster (DR-4069). FEMA Individual Assistance was not declared for any MN disaster during 2011-2013, however, the Minnesota Housing and Finance Agency (MHFA) offered disaster assistance loans to households that did not qualify for SBA disaster loans or had an unmet needs after SBA loans were closed. Of the MN QuickStart loans made in response to the qualifying disaster, 31% were for households in the MID-URN area per data provided by MHFA. In addition, although fifteen counties were included in the declaration, 83% of SBA business loans were made in St. Louis County, where the MID-URN is located (sub-county data that aligns with the MID-URN is not available).
The considerable damage that occurred due to floods and severe storms as part of DR-4069, plus the impact on the low-income neighborhoods in Duluth and remaining unmet needs led Minnesota to define the MID-URN area as census tracts located along the St. Louis River and Lake Superior as show in Attachment E – Optional Maps, Drawings, and Renderings. The target area meets Most Impacted criteria in three ways as illustrated by the following documentation (available in Exhibit B-Threshold): 127 homes damaged (109 severely), $3.030,875 in FEMA category C-G infrastructure damage, and environmental degradation of trails, stream beds, and slumping critical slopes affecting housing and businesses illustrated by a NOAA report. Most Distressed criteria is met through the 51.68% of residents that have incomes below 80% of AMI, 4,033 renter households below 50% AMI with severe housing problems, and existing environmental distress that includes hundreds of brownfield sites, and the nation’s largest contaminated sediment Superfund site. The target area is located in the Great Lakes largest Area of Concern as defined in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1987.
The MN target area has unmet recovery needs that cannot be met with current funding allocations in each three threshold criteria areas including housing damage, infrastructure, and environmental damage. Provided documentation shows over 20 homes that continue to need repair, $1.37 million in unfunded permanent public infrastructure including a community center and trails/culverts, and $1.46 million in environmental repair work. Documentation of these unmet needs can be found in Exhibit B – Threshold Criteria.
According to the Spatial Hazard Events and Losses Database for the United States (1960-2009), losses from disasters in Minnesota have been mainly due to flooding (40%), severe storms (31%), and wind (12%). Losses due to tornadoes (9%), winter weather (8%), wildfire (0%), and drought & heat (0%) each were also noted. This historical data reflect past risks and for the most part reflects areas of anticipated future risk due to climate change. The Synthesis of the Third National Climate Assessment for the Great Lakes Region completed by Minnesota’s project partner the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences + Assessments (GLISA) states ongoing climate risks will include:
- Extreme rainfall events and flooding that may lead to land cover changes (erosion), declining water quality, and negative impacts on transportation, agriculture, human health, and infrastructure.
- Initial increase in agricultural production due to longer growing seasons and increased carbon dioxide that are eventually reduced due to long term climate stresses including drought.
- Replacement of iconic northwoods species of trees with southern varieties.
- Increased heatwave intensity and frequency, increased humidity, degraded air quality, reduced water quality, and change in vector borne disease patterns increasing public health risks.
In addition, the report discusses the high energy-intensity nature of the Great Lakes region where the per capita carbon emissions are 20% higher than the national average mainly due to the dependence on coal as an energy source for electrical production and district thermal systems. For residents, the On the Brink (2013) Home Energy Affordability report shows the county where the MID-URN is located, St. Louis County, has 6,156 households with incomes less than 50% of the Federal Poverty level. This group of households has a home energy burden of 38.8% with an average annual household shortfall of $2,153 to pay for energy. The affordable energy burden is considered 6% of gross household income. All households in Minnesota that are at 200% of the Federal Poverty level or under have an average burden of 32%. Although a warming climate may indicate greater energy affordability in Minnesota, there are competing factors including experiences like the 2013-2014 polar vortex resulting from record Arctic ice melt that resulted in the coldest winter recorded in over 120 years in the target area (75 days below zero).
According to the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute associated with the University of South Carolina that has developed the Social Vulnerability Index, the Minnesota MID-URN area is especially vulnerable to environmental hazards. Below is a map of social vulnerability with flood-affected properties overlayed (St. Louis River corridor is on the bottom of the map). Neighborhoods within the MID-URN are considered high or medium-high on the SoVI®.
Despite the challenges of disaster recovery and concerns about ongoing climate impacts, the people of Minnesota love where they live because of the amazing natural resources. Even after 75 days below zero last year, the target community, Duluth, was named the “Best City Outdoors” by Outdoor Magazine. It has taken a resilient people to overcome challenges like the whole of 2012,where the relatively small target area experienced almost every one of the anticipated natural threats identified in the State of Minnesota Hazard Mitigation Plan (2014) including: extreme cold ( -42ᵒF in January 19), a blizzard with more than $1 million in damages (February 29), hail storm (May 28), riverine flash floods (June 19-20, DR-4069), tornado (August 9), a lightening fatality (August 12), and drought (October 4- USDA). The only natural threats that Minnesota is especially vulnerable to that were not experienced in Duluth in 2012 are wildfire and extreme heat, however, potential NDR strategies implemented in Duluth may reduce wildfire potential in the northern Minnesota forests and significantly reduce carbon emissions.
One of the consequences of being affected by severe flooding and drought during the same year is an exacerbation (and sometimes delay) of flood related damage. When clay-based soils first became super saturated by the flood, and then underwent a period of severe drought many foundations that appeared to be initially undamaged by the flood began to break-up. Other foundations became more vulnerable and showed damage the following spring after the first post-flood freeze-thaw cycle. Unfortunately, this delayed damage that can be attributed to the initial flood appeared only after SBA deadlines had passed, leaving many previously dry homes with cracked and leaky basements lowering home values and endangering human health.
Finding solutions in the target area can create ripples for other areas of Minnesota that experience similar situations to the target area issues including shortage of affordable housing, high levels of energy poverty, USDA-defined food deserts, large areas of legacy contamination, concentrated poverty, and health disparities where lifespans average 10 years less than neighboring higher-income zip codes.
By identifying five layers of resiliency (housing, economy, resources, energy, health) and assembling a cross-sector multi-jurisdictional team (defined in Exhibit E – Soundness of Approach), Minnesota is hoping to leverage technical assistance, funding, and strategies that can address multiple needs in the target area while facilitating broader impact. Examples of this needs-based approach is potential creation of affordable housing in the target area to replace flood-damaged units, thus alleviating housing shortage problems in the target area which facilitates ongoing regional economic development by ensuring adequate housing for workers. By incorporating strong University research partners, this new housing stock can demonstrate cold-climate construction techniques for eventual replication in the northern United States as an energy efficiency and climate mitigation strategy.
Minnesota selected a target area that demonstrates 3 most-impacted, 3 most-distressed, and 3 unmet needs criteria as well as other social, environmental, and economic challenges. The target area was not just selected because of its need, but also because of the spirit of its people and the local capacity to experiment and innovate. Although the target area represents many challenges, it also represents many opportunities to model solutions for the state and region. NDR funds would be utilized to create direct impact through improvements in housing, the economy, water quality, energy security, and community health, while developing a pathway toward statewide resilience.
The State of Minnesota has recognized that there is no magic bullet to creating resiliency in a state or community. In fact, the challenges are manifold so the solutions must cross disciplines, geographies, and populations. Bringing the right people to the table, defining essential questions, and demonstrating an integrated approach can create ripples of resilience where the positive impact ripples from one sector to another, from a local geography to a regional scale, or from the here-and-now into the future. Minnesota’s approach is to define opportunities to complete disaster recovery and create positive ripples, and then to make the transformational splash toward a resilient future.
Minnesota has completed a Climate Adaptation Plan that identifies risks and stressors due to climate change (Exhibit D – Need) and has taken a proactive approach through the Green Step Cities and other actions (Exhibit G – Long-term Commitment) to build greater resiliency. The City of Duluth (MID-URN focus area) has joined in these efforts and is working with partners to establish a Climate Resiliency Framework. Duluth and partner organizations have been recognized for resiliency work in energy efficiency and have developed the At-Home in Duluth Collaborative (25 partner organizations) to focus on building sustainable neighborhoods in the MID-URN area. Minnesota has led international partnerships that focus on lower-carbon economies including developing a Swedish bioenergy partnership and German energy exchange. In addition our Universities have made the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment and Duluth was an early participant in ICLEI’s Cities for Climate Protection. Currently, Duluth is one of 50 communities participating in the Georgetown University Energy Prize Competition to reduce energy use over the next two years. Both Minnesota and Duluth participate in the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System.
Despite these efforts, their remains unmet needs from a qualifying disaster (Exhibit B – Threshold Criteria), ongoing risks and vulnerabilities to climate change, and opportunities to transition to a more resilient future. Minnesota has developed a layered framework for resiliency that recognizes there are multiple strategies, geographies, and stakeholders that need to be taken into account if solutions are to be developed for maximum impact and synergy. This conceptual framework has evolved through multiple consultations. Initial conversations occurred at both the state and local level and were eventually connected through a larger stakeholder meeting with nine state agencies, local government leadership, and a lead nonprofit disaster recovery organization.
The State of Minnesota has recognized that there is no magic bullet to creating resiliency in a state or community. In fact, the challenges are manifold so the solutions must cross disciplines, geographies, and populations. Bringing the right people to the table, defining essential questions, and demonstrating an integrated approach can create Ripples of Resilience where the positive impact ripples from one sector to another, from a local geography to a regional scale, or from the here-and-now into the future. Minnesota’s approach is to define opportunities that complete disaster recovery in the target area and creates positive ripples that make a transformational splash toward a resilient future in our state and region.
Minnesota has completed a Climate Adaptation Plan that identifies risks and stressors due to climate change and has taken a proactive approach through the Green Step Cities and other actions (Exhibit G – Long-term Commitment) to build greater resiliency. The target area (City of Duluth LMI neighborhoods) has joined in these efforts and is working with partners to establish a formula for comprehensive community resilience. Duluth and partner organizations have been recognized for resiliency work in energy efficiency and have developed the At-Home in Duluth Collaborative (25 partner organizations) to focus on building sustainable neighborhoods in the target area. Minnesota has led international partnerships that focus on lower-carbon economies including developing a Swedish bioenergy partnership and German energy exchange. In addition our Universities have made the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment and Duluth was an early participant in ICLEI’s Cities for Climate Protection. Currently, Duluth is one of 50 communities participating in the Georgetown University Energy Prize Competition to reduce energy use over the next two years. Both Minnesota and Duluth participate in the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System.
Despite these efforts, there are unmet needs from June 2012 (DR 4069) severe storms and flooding (Exhibit B-Threshold), ongoing risks and vulnerabilities to climate change (Exhibit D- Need), and opportunities to transition to a more resilient future. Minnesota has developed a layered framework for resiliency that recognizes there are multiple strategies, geographies, and stakeholders that need to be involved if solutions are to be developed for maximum impact and synergy. This conceptual framework has evolved through multiple consultations. Initial conversations occurred at both the state and local level and were eventually connected through a larger stakeholder meeting with nine state agencies, local government leadership, and a lead nonprofit disaster recovery organization (Attachment D-Consultation Summary).
Identification of the MID-URN target area included determination of qualified disasters, examination of regions that could meet the threshold requirements, understanding of local capacity and ongoing unmet needs, and utilization of risk assessment to examine climate vulnerabilities. The initial consultations also resulted in a determination that Minnesota’s approach would focus on a deep level of resiliency integration in a demonstration area and further refinement of a resiliency framework that could be applied to other Minnesota communities.
The process for Phase I consultations included a progression from consultation (informing) to engagement (co-creation) to partnership (commitment to participate). All mandatory consultations were completed including a public comment period from February 23-March 9, a State public hearing on March 3rd, and website on resiliency available from the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development at MN.Gov/deed/ and at BigWaterMN.com.
The higher level of engagement and co-creation proceeded along multiple pathways. This included directed approaches to organizations representing vulnerable populations to use established connections to engage directly with low-income, minority, disabled and elderly members of the target community. Another pathway included expanding input through a branching network approach, building greater regional and multistate awareness of risks, unmet needs, and potential solutions. Once a Ripples of Resilience approach was determined based on five layers of resiliency (housing, economy, resources, energy, and health), specific engagement strategies were implemented to gather input and begin project definition in each of the areas. Examples of this engagement work include:
Housing- Minnesota’s and Duluth’s Consolidated Plans, analysis of MN Quick Start disaster loan data, and a housing study conducted by Ehlers and Associates for the City of Duluth were used as background research. A housing summit including over 250 civic leaders representing affordable housing organizations, Continuum of Care agencies, developers, contractors, realtors, financial institutions, and local and state governmental agencies was conducted in the identified MID-URN area during the spring resulting in a December 2014 Housing Action Plan report for the City of Duluth. NDRC consultation process included meetings with the housing summit organizers and incorporation of the identified housing needs as pieces of the resilience framework. Consultation meetings were also held with housing and Community Action organizations active in the region. Major issues identified that will be brought into Phase II project and program consideration included a lack of rental housing (2,500 units needed for low-to-moderate (LMI) income individuals in the next six years), lack of disaster resources available to rehabilitate flood-affected rental units, ongoing issues with blight in LMI neighborhoods, insufficient post-disaster buy-out funds, need to decentralize areas of poverty by incorporating market rate housing in LMI neighborhoods and adding affordable housing units in upper income areas, and ongoing foundation and health issues in flood-affected homes. Cross-pollinating with economic and resource conversations were the concepts that “we cannot build our way out of the need for affordable housing, we need to concentrate on growing income and assets of our lowest income families” and “in order to effectively deal with aging infrastructure and reduce exposure in flood prone areas, we need to concentrate on increasing housing density in appropriate areas.”
Resources- The resource layer consultations focused on understanding the environmental impacts and opportunities in the MID-URN area and the connection to larger regional resiliency solutions. Consultations began with State agencies, environmental groups, research centers, and local citizen and governmental representatives. Over multiple meetings, resiliency for this layer was defined as water management in flood and non-flood conditions, remediation of polluted land and water, and ongoing development of resources in a manner that supports economic growth as well as health of the regional environment and residents.
Instead of viewing infrastructure as a layer of resiliency, it was considered to be a tool that enables effective development in each of the resiliency layers. This was especially apparent in the resource conversations as research reports like the Economic Assessment of Green Infrastructure Strategies for Climate Change Adaptation: Pilot Studies in the Great Lakes Region, conducted by NOAA’s Costal Services Center and MN Sea Grant, were examined.
Several specific challenges and opportunities regarding the resource layer were identified through agency meetings and consultation with local groups like the River Corridor Coalition representing 10 neighborhoods in the MID-URN area. These challenges included the critical slope of the Duluth hill which creates flash-flood risks, legacy contamination of industrial sites throughout the MID-URN impacting water quality, historical construction over stream beds, development in floodplains prone to ongoing river flooding, and non-resilient rebuilding of infrastructure to meet emergency needs. Data on challenges included obtaining information on the over 2,500 brownfield/environmental permit sites and 6 Super Fund sites in the target area. One aspect of selection of the target area included the data indicating that the target area is in the Great Lakes largest Area of Concern, includes the largest contaminated sediment site in the United States, and that residents in certain target area zip codes have average lifespans of up to 10 years less than adjacent zip codes.
During consultation conversations, especially with residents of the target area, there was also a sense of opportunity. The St. Louis River Corridor, which is the largest freshwater estuary in the world, but an Area of Concern identified by the US and Canadian governments in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1987, is moving toward an early delisting in 2020 with considerable effort to eliminate beneficial use impairments ranging from restrictions on fish consumption to excessive loading of sediment and nutrients. This provides an opportunity for LMI neighborhoods to reclaim access to the river system, develop economic opportunities on the waterfront, and take upstream action to protect the implemented remediation measures. It also provides an opportunity for redevelopment of regional tourism along the corridor and increased economic prospects at the port. Agencies involved in remediation activities spoke to the tight timeframe regarding scheduled projects and the need for good coordination of any resiliency projects as well as the opportunity that NDR funds could be utilized to help the target area neighborhoods plan for a post-industrial resilient future.
Economy- Economic outreach and conversations developed in three ways. The first was consultation with state, regional, and local economic development groups and philanthropic entities involved in regional recovery from the disaster. This included the ALERT (Aligned Regional Economic Recovery Team) and MN DEED identifying businesses affected by the disaster and determining ongoing unmet needs. The second was identification of economic issues that may have been exacerbated by the flood including disproportionately high minority unemployment rates, high levels of poverty, and need for continuance of an integrated financial opportunities approach for low-income neighborhood residents. The final approach was to develop a specific outreach strategy to small businesses in the target area to better understand impacts and ongoing challenges. Consultation methodologies included working with organizations representing vulnerably populations that host leadership and employment forums in the target area, gathering nearly 100 small business owners to a consultation event followed-by some individual meetings and business tours, and meetings with the regional economic development agency, University economic development center, and a regional public-private economic development partnership. Cross-pollination with this layer of resiliency included potential employment opportunities from Phase II identified projects, transitional employment and training as part of environmental remediation and urban agriculture, green infrastructure ability to improve regional tourism, and redevelopment of contaminated sites for clean energy production.
Energy- Coordination of input in the energy layer has been led by nonprofit partner Ecolibrium3 and has included meetings with affordable housing agencies, interfaith partners, utilities, and regional and national leaders. The main consultation activity included a two-day energy charrette in February to determine vulnerabilities and opportunities to transition to a more resilient energy system. The Duluth Energy Futures Charrette included individual input sessions with business and housing sector representatives, as well as public input meetings. The Rocky Mountain Institute facilitated a full-day session with local and state business, environmental, governmental, research, housing, and utility leaders that determined a vision for a low-carbon system that builds on local energy resources, addresses energy poverty, and builds long-term opportunity for energy equity in the region. Data for Phase I consideration included five years of energy, carbon, and water usage from the Regional Indicators project, damage assessments to a MID-URN district thermal system, energy poverty statistics, and age of building stock. Cross-pollination between sectors included clean energy job opportunities in retrofits and renewables, the ability to generate energy from permanently capped brownfields, impact on the environment and economy from a regional energy strategy that involves transition from coal to waste-wood biomass, wind, and solar, and prioritization of retrofits in the housing sector to address energy poverty in a cold climate. Emphasis from low-income residents was placed on energy costs related to heating with electric heaters in the season after the flood due to damaged furnaces/boilers and being in arrears on energy payments due to the 2013-2014 polar vortex which resulted in 75 days below zero.
The consultation work undertaken as part of Minnesota’s Phase I application is already creating positive ripples. The Rocky Mountain Institute has committed to creating a Blueprint for Energy Transition for Duluth that will be developed as an interactive tool that other communities in Minnesota and the United States can use to assess current community energy use and low-carbon transition options. In addition, the Minnesota Energy Transition Lab has identified three research projects to advance the regional biomass economy, potential siting of a combined heat and power plant, and formation of an Architecture 2030 district in Duluth.
Health- Lack of resilience in the food systems has a long history in the target area including designation for much of the area as a USDA food desert. Initially, meetings were held regarding food security as a layer of resilience but with input, this was later revised to say that the fifth layer of resilience needed to be the larger concept of community health with food security as a component. Consultations included multiple connections with local and regional food and health organizations, a community meeting in the target area, and a door-to-door canvass to identify ongoing vulnerabilities conducted by local low-income residents as part of a Fair Food Access Campaign. Data that will help inform a Phase II application includes U of M Extension’s Western Lake Superior Food Assessment which looked at a 15 county (includes areas of northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin) food shed capacity to meet regional dietary needs, lack of regional food infrastructure, and economic impact of growing the food production and value-added sector. Co-benefits identified in advancing food security through ecologically sound practices throughout the region and through urban agriculture methods included job creation, positive impacts on health and learning, financial stability for families, reduced run-off and water pollution, and greater resilience to climate induced food price instability. During consultations with low-income residents attending food sector meetings, input was given as to the inadequacy of disaster recovery funds that did not cover personal property like freezers and refrigerators after flooding, and the impact of drought or disasters in other parts of the country on food prices.
Consultations for the Phase I application are in Attachment D – Consultation Summary and represent only the beginning of the process. The Phase I focus has been on framing resilience, educating on climate impacts, determining vulnerabilities, and inspiring a transformational vision for a more resilient future. Phase II will build upon the layered resiliency framework and connections established with multiple stakeholders during Phase I to identify specific projects, planning activities, and programs to build resiliency. We will take an iterative design approach to develop a portfolio of projects that maximize resiliency, leverage, and co-benefits, build on regional assets and capacity, addresses the needs of our most vulnerable, and can serve as the catalyst for multiple ripples.
To move from the Phase I framing to Phase II projects a Resiliency Steering Committee has been established that includes representatives from each of the general management partners (see Exhibit C – Capacity), each layer of resilience, and advocates for low-income, minority, disabled, elderly, and non-native English speaking groups. This group will lead stakeholder meetings and a Request for Information process to identify projects and evaluate them against resiliency criteria. Working with partner organizations like MN Sea Grant, the Great Lakes Integrated Science + Assessments Center (GLISA), the Minnesota Interagency Climate Adaptation Team, and Minnesota Silver Jackets, the Resiliency Steering Committee will also conduct additional climate change information and adaptation conversations within the MID-URN and larger region including both northern Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The Request for Information process will be used to not only surface a wide variety of projects that could become part of an integrated portfolio approach in the target area, but to create an atmosphere of opportunity where multiple organizations, agencies, and residents are encouraged to explore their work through the lens of building a resilient community. The RFI will ask each potential project to go through an evaluation process to determine leverage, policy, co-benefits, disaster tie-back, and long-term opportunities for resilience. The Resiliency Steering Committee will then use the information to curate a compelling, transformational application that maximized impact throughout the state.
Although many participants in the Phase I consultation process had specific projects or program ideas in mind, we worked to focus conversations on broadening the understanding of resiliency within the target area, state, and region. Therefore, Minnesota remains open to a variety of approaches that will be vetted in Phase II planning including building solutions, relocation/buy-outs, financing tools, green infrastructure, small business support, showcase projects, and policy adoption. Potential resiliency strategies could mean enhancing existing programs, creating new partnerships, leveraging new resources, and developing metrics and research projects to monitor progress. In addition to the Phase II criteria of potential co-benefits, feasibility, capacity of partners, integrated approach, impact on vulnerable populations and businesses, geographic reach, and ability to effectively meet unmet recovery needs, each project for Phase II will be evaluated for its ability to build social cohesiveness in our communities, to strengthen partnerships between organizations, and to advance understanding of climate impacts and actions to mitigate and adapt.
By looking at resiliency through an integrated lens and recognizing the importance of partnerships and community engagement, Minnesota is poised to create a comprehensive Phase II solution that develops best practices for resiliency.
There are a variety of potential solutions that may be advanced in a Minnesota’s Ripples of Resilience Phase II application. Each potential project will go through an iterative design process led by the Resiliency Steering Committee and be vetted against a variety of criteria (Exhibit E – Soundness of Approach). Because of the expected portfolio approach, answers to specific outcomes and leverage will fall along a continuum, however the generalized approach is to create long-lasting solutions that maximizes the leverage of planning, design and construction or implementation resources, has identified potential sources for any required ongoing operations and maintenance, and provides co-benefits that advance community and individual resilience.
Minnesota’s framing of resiliency includes advancing resiliency in five integrated layers. A considerable process will be implemented to determine the final projects and therefore the outcomes and leverage, however to better understand potential strategies from the Ripples of Resilience approach potential sample project(s) for each of the layers are discussed below:
Housing- An example housing project could be construction of a multi-family assistive housing project to replace units affected by the qualified disaster. This type of project could help meet the need for affordable rental units, serve as a resource for hard-to-house individuals, and help reduce blight through an associated buy-out program. Leverage for initial construction of the project can come from entitlement CDBG funds, state housing dollars, and philanthropic contributions including local and/or statewide organizations like the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund. Ongoing O&M can be covered through rents, supportive housing dollars, and initial parameters that reduce energy and maintenance costs through design. Reduction of runoff could be accomplished through green roofs that also cool the roof reducing need for air conditioning and can increase the efficiency of roof top solar panels to maximize energy generation. Ripples could include removal of flood and/or blighted properties opening the door to daylighting of a local stream that could then serve as green space furthering neighborhood and local business district revitalization.
Economy- Almost every action toward greater resiliency can have ripples into the economy layer just as each action could create opportunities to address financial security for low-income, underemployed, and underrepresented populations that may struggle during good times and be overwhelmed in the aftermath of a disaster. Economic project examples could be include a partnership with Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College to train low-income and/or underemployed individuals in air sealing and insulation as a strategy to increase contractor capacity in advance of a targeted home retrofit program that includes addressing healthy homes concerns like water infiltration and lead-based paint. Retrofit projects could be paid for through creation of an on-bill repayment plan in conjunction with local utility incentives. Projects will create long-term retention of energy dollars in the local economy, create jobs, reduce carbon pollution, and decrease those affected by energy poverty. A green/energy products cluster could be created to utilize port assets and support further improvements in the residential and commercial/industrial sectors.
Resources- Following research done by MN Sea Grant for the NOAA’s Coastal Services Center, green infrastructure could be utilized to capture water to reduce flash flooding during rain events reducing building damages, increasing recreational use, reducing land restoration costs, reducing stormwater infrastructure replacement costs, and providing employment for low-income residents through a Stream Corps program where trees are planted to stabilize stream beds and provide shading to keep water cool to maintain cold water dependent trout as regional temperatures rise. The project could implement well research strategies that result in approximately $1.65 million in benefits accrued over the next 20 years in the Chester Creek watershed (eastern part of the MID-URN). This approach could be replicated for other significant streams cutting through MID-URN neighborhoods in conjunction with increase recreational opportunities provided through bonding against a ½ and ½ tourism tax. Ripples could include improved water quality, higher property values, improved natural areas, increased social connection, and improved wildlife habitat along with multiple examples and opportunities to research resulting impacts to establish replication practices in other communities.
Energy- To address flood damage and aging infrastructure on a district heating system in Duluth, once-through steam lines could be replaced with a looped hot water system. This modification would prevent future damage from floods, increase efficiency significantly creating financial viability for a switch from coal to waste wood as a fuel source, reduce mercury emissions on the shores of Lake Superior, and stimulate economic revitalization of the regional forest products industry by providing income for marginal products, thus supporting small logging firms. System changes could result in a reduction in the chemical treatment and pumping costs of 90 million gallons of water per year. By appropriately timing the project during a major street reconstruction, construction costs could be significantly reduced, potentially creating opportunities to assist businesses with building conversions and retrofits (using PACE financing), creating greater economic resiliency in a historic downtown and modeling system conversions that could be applied to similar systems in the US and Canada.
Health- A closed historic school in a low-income neighborhood could be repurposed as a food hub and permaculture center providing organic food in a current USDA food desert. A public private partnership could be established to build and operate high production organic greenhouses on remediated brownfield sites. Power for the green houses could come from utility-scale solar installed on portions of the site that must be permanently capped. Ongoing local food production and creation of value-added processing can help support regional food production, urban agriculture and training programs, and small regional farms. In addition, access of high quality food can reduce health issues and vulnerability to food price fluctuations, increase school performance for low-income children, and provide opportunities to increase social connectedness.
Metrics for success will have to be developed and will depend on the final portfolio of projects that are selected during Phase II. Factors that will be used in selecting projects as indicated in Exhibit E – Soundness of Approach will likely also serve as categories for establishing success metrics. Additional metrics will be developed from examples of outcomes and co-benefits listed in the Ripples of Resilience table found in Exhibit A – Executive Summary.
In addition to the funding/financing strategies embedded above, strategies could include tax increment financing, tax abatement, dedicated tax levy to support housing programs, state housing funds, state or city bonding, special legislation, employer assisted programs, philanthropic gifts, renegotiation of utility franchise frees, or earned income strategies to name a few. Both the State and local partners will work to establish long-term viability of projects selected during Phase II planning. Conversations will also be held with property insurers and re-insurers along with health insurance and local healthcare facilities to determine potential premium savings through addressing risks.
Although funding will be used to impact the target area, it is anticipated that leverage for, and impact from, projects will expand throughout the region and potentially the state. Initial leverage commitment of $330,000 is included in Attachment B – Leverage Documentation.
Minnesota recognizes that impacts of climate change are already being felt throughout the state and has been actively engaged in establishing policy, creating financial incentives, and comprehensively exploring options for reducing emissions, adapting to climate change, and building resiliency within the state.
Since the qualifying disaster in June of 2012, state agencies began an important progression of work to first define adaptation strategies (Interagency Climate Adaptation Team’s Adapting to Climate Change in Minnesota 2013) to communicating climate impacts and action strategies that residents and businesses can take through the Minnesota and Climate Change: Our Tomorrow Starts Today (2014). In November of 2014, a set of statewide stakeholder meetings (Climate Solutions and Economic Opportunities) facilitated by the Center for Climate Strategies (CSS) began. The CSEO process includes conducting an analysis on the potential to reduce greenhouse gases, projected societal costs and savings, and projected indirect effects on the economy to determine Minnesota-specific strategies that build resilience.
Actions improving permanent resilience in Minnesota that have been taken since the qualifying disaster in June 2012 include:
- Modification to the Renewable Portfolio Standard (2013)– In 2013, Minnesota modified its Renewable Portfolio Standard to add a 1.5% by 2020 carve out for solar by 2020 for Investor-Owned Utilities. Adoption of this legislation multiples the 2013 installed capacity of 13 MW by a factor of 35 to reach 450 MW by 2020. The legislation also created mandates for solar garden programs, first in the nation value-of-solar tariffs, and an expansion of net metering from 40 kW systems to 1 MW expanding the financial viability of projects.
- Adoption of Minnesota Model Building Codes (2015)- Minnesota updated the model building code from a base of the 2006 ICC to 2012 ICC and completed a durability study report for the Construction Code Advisory Council. Implementation of the residential energy code component begins on February 21, 2015 and creates a 30 year savings of $9,873 for homes constructed under the new code (5.7 year payback). Impact information was compiled as part of a US DOE study.
- Grant Funds for Community Resilience (2014)- The Pollution Control Agency has established grant awards for community resiliency. Funding has included awards to specifically educate and conduct outreach to increase resiliency among the state’s most vulnerable and underserved populations including low-income, rural, and communities of color, regional resiliency convenings on climate adaptation ideation and innovation, and establishment of a local framework for city-level resiliency planning.
- MN Department of Health: Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (2014) and Health Impact Assessment (MID-URN neighborhoods 2014-2015)- The Department of Health has studied and reported on the climate vulnerabilities faced by Minnesotans including extreme heat, air pollution, vector-borne disease, flooding and flash flooding, drought. Utilizing the information developed, a pilot project is being conducted in two MID-URN neighborhoods to complete Health Impact Assessments as part of land-use planning which will be completed by the City of Duluth in May of 2015.
- Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy for Duluth (2014-2015)– MPCA, MN Sea Grant, UMD-NRRI, and US Geological Survey are completing a WRAP for urban streams flowing through MID-URN areas of Duluth.
Minnesota has developed the Ripples of Resiliency approach and Phase II application development process as an impetus for advancing local and state conversations that could result in additional long-term commitments including policy, partnerships, and programs.