Groundwater decline and the preservation of property in Boston
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Anne Whiston Spirn.
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There is a slow-motion disaster underway below the city of Boston. The levels of groundwater have been steadily decreasing over the past eighty years and the structural integrity of the city's older buildings is in jeopardy. Buildings located on Boston's made land that were constructed prior to 1900 were supported with wood pilings. Wood pilings remain strong so long as they are submerged in groundwater. When exposed to air, the wood decays and buildings can eventually collapse. Repairing rotted wood pilings is a substantial financial burden and is currently shouldered entirely by homeowners. State and local governments ignored the city's pilings problem for decades, but in the last eighteen months the city's groundwater issues have surfaced prominently on political agendas. The city, state and community members are now working collaboratively to implement solutions that will increase the level of groundwater throughout the city, and a window of opportunity has opened in which lasting policies can be passed that protect buildings from further damage. The solutions to the city's groundwater problem are theoretically simple: more water must enter the ground and stay there, and rotted pilings must be repaired.(cont.) However, in addressing this challenge, some very difficult obstacles to planning must be overcome. The piling decay and mitigation efforts all occur below ground thus are unseen. The effects of lowered groundwater levels have been stretched out over decades and residents and politicians have frequently underestimated the problem. Most importantly, the key stakeholders all have strong disincentives to address the issue of rotted pilings. This thesis examines the relationship between groundwater and pilings and addresses how three key stakeholder groups - the city, state, and community organizations - can pool their resources to prevent further damage to pilings and permanently increase groundwater levels in the city.
Thesis (M.C.P.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2006."June 2006."Includes bibliographical references (p. 79-84).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.