MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency warns that the impact of climate change is already severely affecting cities and homeowners across the state.
The MPCA says right now 155,000 Minnesota homes across the state are at risk of flooding. So are 29,000 roads and 13,000 commercial buildings. And those numbers are only expected to rise.READ MORE: Northern Minnesota Winters Showing Dramatic Effects Of Climate Change
The MPCA held a virtual climate change meeting Wednesday with community leaders from Biwabik, Richfield and New Ulm to show climate change is statewide.
“We have seen more intense precipitation events more frequently. We are seeing intense flooding in areas where you may have not seen flooding,” MPCA commissioner Katrina Kessler said.
Leaders in New Ulm says severe rains are their biggest problem. In Biwabik, unpredictable rain and snow falls are hurting tourism year round.
You probably wouldn’t think of climate change as affecting cities like Richfield, an inner-ring suburb near the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. But city managers say climate change has already cost Richfield taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. In 2019, a massive rain washed out a walkway at the Woodlake Nature Center. The replacement cost $250,000.READ MORE: High School Seniors Strive To Make Their St. Louis Park School More Sustainable
Frequent high-rain events are flooding new areas.
“We have a community Facebook page and people are putting on there, ‘We need help because our basement is flooding.’ And we are hearing about that more and more,” Richfield City Council member-at-large Mary Supple said.
WCCO’s Mike Augustyniak is a Certified Consulting Meteorologist, qualified to consult on climate change issues.
“The two big factors that will impact all of us are warming winters and more extreme precipitation — meaning times were we are flooding and times when we are droughting, but less of the average in between,” Augustyniak said.
Despite this winter being colder than average, winters are warming. One example is that Minnesota lakes are iced over about two weeks less than they were in 1967.MORE NEWS: Warming Winters Up North Is 'Signature Change' In Minnesota's Climate, Experts Say
MPCA is currently seeking $21 million from the legislature for future grant funding. These grants would help provide stormwater infrastructure upgrades due to climate change.