Adapting Infrastructure to climate conditions, Ocean Springs, Mississippi

End Date: 07/31/15


  • Identifying target areas where infrastructure faces the greatest threat from sea level rise.
  • Identifying options to improve traditional stormwater management capacity in areas currently susceptible to flooding.
  • Developing green infrastructure solutions that minimize surface runoff and inundation of storm and sanitary sewer systems.
  • Relocating or armoring underground utilities and roadways as sea level rise occurs.


To accomplish this analysis, the City will take the following steps:

  1. Map vulnerabilities in the Ocean Springs Harbor/Shearwater geographic area;
  2. Model worst case climate scenarios where high tides and tropical storms converge;
  3. Develop up to three adaptive infrastructure solutions to address worst case scenarios using capital improvements under consideration by the City to the extent possible;
  4. Conduct a feasibility analysis of each of the three scenarios.

Extensive data is available to support the development of maps and models, including historic flooding data, NOAA National Data Buoy Center records, Land cover/land use and bathymetry maps from NOAA’s Coastal Service Center and local data on stormwater and sewer drainage infrastructure. After mapping is complete, the City will select existing or develop new capital improvement scenarios for these infrastructure adaptation alternatives. Through consulting NOAA, ACOE and other leading sources the City will finalize the methodology to determine the effectiveness of each infrastructure adaptation strategy. Parameters such as technical complexity, cost and anticipated reduction in flooding, property and natural habitat damage will be considered in the final feasibility study. The results will quantify the costs and benefits of each alternative so that the City may better prioritize its future capital investments.


Evidence suggests that sea level is slowly rising along the Coast of Ocean Springs. In the course of preparing its 2012 Hazard Mitigation Plan and the Sea Level Rise Plan funded by MS/AL Sea Grant and completed in 2013, the City of Ocean Springs identified several areas where its infrastructure is at high risk due to coastal storms and rising water levels. Ocean Springs wishes to account for sea level rise over at least a 50-year horizon as an outgrowth of these research and planning efforts.

Ocean Springs’ coastline is characterized by man-made beach, natural marsh and wetland habitats that provide the City with protection from the effects of urbanization and increasingly severe weather patterns. These waterfront environments provide infrastructure protection to roads, walkways and stormwater outfalls as well as nearby residences. To improve coastal development practices, this project will assess alternatives to protect the City’s existing coastal defenses as well as the feasibility of climate adaptation and hazard mitigation improvements to local infrastructure proposed in its Hazard Mitigation and Sea Level Rise Plans. The City of Ocean Springs will lead an infrastructure feasibility analysis of infrastructure adaptation alternatives recommended in the City’s Sea Level Rise Plan with the help of a local advisory group and NOAA Coastal Storms Program partners. The objective of each alternative will be to reduce flooding, property and natural habitat damage.

The analysis will focus on the Ocean Springs Harbor/Shearwater geographic area as it represents the intersection of major infrastructure investment and coastal habitats. City officials have a demonstrated record of success in in coastal resilience projects, having actively participated in the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant’s initiatives to promote community resilience and efforts by the Army Corps of Engineers to develop the Mississippi Coastal Improvements Plan (MsCIP). This grant from the MS/AL Sea Grant will strengthen local research and expertise at adapting to changing climate conditions and will be developed in collaboration with NOAA’s Gulf of Mexico Coastal Storms Program, Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant Programs and the Gulf of Mexico Climate Community of Practice (CoP).