Published January 22. 2014 4:00AM
The climate is changing, water levels will rise, and ocean storms will inflict more damage, all of which should be of great interest to Connecticut, a state with a littoral southern border. This is why it makes good sense that the state is creating an "Institute for Community Resiliency and Climate Adaptation."
The new agency will be located at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus in Groton, another good choice. The coastal campus specializes in the study of marine sciences, making it an appropriate location to pursue the new institute's mission of developing science-based policy proposals for dealing with rising seas.
A state law approved in 2013 called for creation of the institute. The administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has now identified a source of seed money to get it started, a $2.5 million settlement of a lawsuit brought against a Unilever manufacturing plant in Clinton for unlawful wastewater discharges.
The new institute will partner the University of Connecticut and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Its research should help identify the most vulnerable areas, guide policy on building regulations along the state's coastlines and tidal rivers, and find ways to mitigate future storm ravages in the most environmentally sensitive manner.
The growth potential for such an institute could be enormous. Its timely and important mission should be able to attract government and private research grants. The research will have implications for other coastal communities and provide opportunities for partnerships across state borders.
In recent editorials this newspaper has urged the governor, legislature and UConn President Susan Herbst to find a greater role for the strategically located Avery Point Campus as it seeks to expand and improve science and technological learning at the state university. This is exactly the type of initiative that meets that aim.
More details can expected when Gov. Malloy, Ms. Herbst, DEEP Commissioner Daniel Esty and local legislators formally announce the creation of the institute at an 11 a.m. Friday news conference at Avery Point.
There is reason for excitement.