Port Resilience

A priority item of the NB Resilient plan was to develop a long-term adaptation plan for the Port of New Bedford. The process has already begun: the City partnered with the Town of Fairhaven to evaluate the impact of sea level rise on Port infrastructure and develop Resilient Design Guidelines to guide all future development around the Port and a Marine Business Toolkit to keep our existing economy thriving through change.

Preparing for Sea Level Rise

Climate Change and the Port

The climate in Massachusetts and New Bedford is already changing. Burning fossil fuels to power our homes and vehicles and keep our economy running emits greenhouse gases. We have increased greenhouse gases in our atmosphere to a level that has led to disruptions to the Earth’s climate. As a result, we are experiencing hotter days, more extreme storms, and rising seas bringing high tides further inland. These impacts are only projected to intensify in the future.

Of particular importance to the Port of New Bedford are the effects of sea level rise and storm surge on the resilience of infrastructure and business operations. The extent and rate of sea level rise depends on reducing greenhouse gases and several scenarios have been developed depending on how much emissions we continue to produce globally. The State recommends planning for sea level rise under a high emission scenario. Refer to the chart for sea level rise projections for various emission scenarios from a 2010 baseline.

Values are consistent 2017 National Climate Assessment global mean sea level values.

Preparing for Sea Level Rise

With sea levels already rising and projections that the trend will continue, it is increasingly important to begin making resiliency enhancements to new and existing infrastructure around the Port. The Woods Hole Group created an interactive coastal viewer tool for the Port of New Bedford that allows users to explore sea level rise projections.

Resources for Resilience

Resilient Design Guidelines

Recognizing the effect sea level rise and storm surge could have of the Port’s infrastructure and operations, the City of New Bedford partnered with the Town of Fairhaven and the New Bedford Port Authority to create localized Resilient Design Guidelines. The guidelines are intended for developers, businesses, residents, and City/Town staff members that are living or working in and around the Port of New Bedford. Whether for a public planning project, developing or redeveloping in the area, or looking to upgrade an existing structure, the guidelines provide resources and strategies on how to increase the resilience of the Port’s many assets and keep it a thriving economic hub.

Resources for Resilience

Maritime Business Resilience Toolkit

Businesses will be uniquely affected by climate change as their bottom line depends on their ability to maintain their operations in a changing climate. Climate change may cause power outages, inconstancies in the supply chain, flooding of mechanical components, interruptions and closures of business operations, and higher costs for insurance, maintenance, and repairs. To prepare for these risks, the City of New Bedford partnered with the Town of Fairhaven to create a Maritime Business Resilience Toolkit. The Toolkit provides both short- and long-term solutions for businesses to prepare for the effects of sea level rise and storm surge.

Resources for Resilience

Harbor Port Assessment Summary

After completing the Resilient Design Guidelines, the City took the next step towards a more resilient port through a grant from Coastal Zone Management. In early 2021, New Bedford Port Authority hired Foth Infrastructure & Environmental, LLC and Fathom Resources, LLC to perform underwater and topside structural inspections and assessments of the marine infrastructure at the municipally owned and managed piers in New Bedford and Fairhaven, as well as New Bedford’s South Terminal. The results of these infrastructural assessments were then considered in relation to projected sea level rise and flooding events due to climate change. This report summarizes that assessment and provides recommendations to enhance resilience of assets in the port for owners, users, and other key waterfront stakeholders.

Explore the Harbor Port Assessment Summary.

How You Can Help

Prepare your household or business!

For businesses and homeowners alike, preparing for challenges posed by sea level rise and storm surge can protect your property and your bottom line. 


A Continuity and Recovery Plan will help your business bounce back from a disaster.

Make a Plan
An Emergency Kit will prepare you for a flooding event or any other kind of disaster.

Make a Kit