Project Management Institute

Weather alert

flooding ahead

The world's oceans are rising and so is pressure on civic authorities to prepare. By the end of this century, sea levels could increase more than three feet. That's especially dire news for the world's coastal cities. This article discusses how cities worldwide are launching projects to meet flood threats and how project practitioners are facing waves of challenges involving stakeholders, risk management and budget constraints in the process. It details the challenge project practitioners face when getting stakeholders with sometimes differing or competing interests on the same page when it comes to strategy, noting that communication is important for gaining stakeholder buy-in. It also looks at how project practitioners must weigh cities' existing flood-control systems against the risk of pressure from burgeoning populations, revealing that there is no single standard for this type of risk management. The article also looks at how cultural independence leads project teams to tackle projects on their own. In addition, it examines how funding from multiple groups may be the greatest hurdle a project will need to overcome. The article concludes by examining what happens when cities don't plan for floods, citing the destruction Hurricane Sandy wreaked along the U.S. eastern seaboard. Accompanying the article are two case studies. The first case study examines The Netherlands' US$7 billion Delta Works program that constructed dikes and other fortifications such as a moveable barrier built to withstand a 1-in-10,000-year storm. It details how the project team maintained costs and managed five partners to launch the project. The second case study describes the Victoria Park Lake Improvement project in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. It overviews the project's scope, looks at how the project team maintained the budget by creating a new funding model that charged a tiered flat fee each month based on the amount of water runoff generated from properties relying on the system, and discusses how the team shored up public support for the new user fee. Accompanying the article is a sidebar listing the 10 coastal cities at the greatest risk for flooding.
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