LAUREL, Md. — Climate change may be a global issue, but it is proving costly for local governments faced with paying for the damage, according to leaders in Prince George's County.
Next year's budget in the county includes nearly $150 million in spending to "protect our communities from climate change and reduce the impacts of flooding," according to County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who tweeted out details of her spending plan Tuesday.
Among the projects Alsobrooks aims to fund is a large ongoing flood control project on Bear Branch in Laurel.
Mike McLaughlin, who volunteers for local environmental action group Laurel for the Patuxent said the county should invest in even more stormwater management because the impact of climate change is already happening.
"All the stuff that comes off our roads now is dirtier than treated sewer water, because it's not being treated," McLaughlin said. "This goes straight down the storm drains and directly into the river.”
The Bear Branch project in Laurel has involved re-engineering an entire stream valley upstream of Laurel Lakes. The lakes have been repeatedly trashed by heavy floods, according to Lester Louis, who has lived in a lakeside subdivision since the 1980s.
"We get these huge storms sometimes in June," Louis said."It brings in all kinds of junk including boulders."
Brookings Institution fellow Joseph Kane, who specializes in infastructure and local economic development, said the investments being made in Prince George's County are an example showing local governments are already bearing the majority of the burden on adapting to climate change.
“It's here right now," Kane said. "There really is no choice because we're going to be paying for this regardless, over time. It's a question of, do we want to have more predictable costs in the short term trying to get ahead of it? Or are we going to deal with the unknown costs and risks that are going to come over time?"