Introducing Resilient Watertown – A Climate Action and Resilience Plan

Climate Action in Watertown

­­­­In July of 2019, the Town of Watertown received funds to start a town-wide conversation about climate change and its effects on the community. The MVP Planning Grant provides funding for cities and towns in Massachusetts to plan for climate change resilience and implement priority projects. The state provides communities funding to complete vulnerability assessments and develop action-oriented resilience plans.  


Watertown already has a number of accomplishments in regard to sustainability. The Town's recently launched Watertown Electricity Choice aggregation program contains 51% local renewable energy content, the second highest in the Commonwealth. Watertown also requires new developments of a certain size to manage 100% of stormwater on-site, and to include onsite solar, which has resulted in the embrace of low-impact development solutions on private property and increased the Town's renewable energy generation. In terms of transportation, Watertown worked with the MBTA and the City of Cambridge to install a dedicated bus lane on parts of Mt. Auburn Street, serving the Routes #70 and #71 buses to Harvard Square. These and other actions form a solid foundation from which we can grow.

We also need to be prepared for a changing climate because even as we reduce our GHG emissions, we know that decades of increasing global emissions have made climate impacts inevitable. We are already experiencing impacts in Watertown in the form of increased flooding, droughts, heat, and intense storms, and we can expect more.

There are steps we can take to reduce our emissions and make our community more resilient to a changing climate, while protecting our natural resources, preserving town character, and ensuring equitable access to transportation.  That is why we’ve developed our first comprehensive climate action and resilience framework, Resilient Watertown.

Our response: Watertown’s Climate Action and Resilience Framework

Resilient Watertown will be our roadmap to address the impacts of climate change on our community.

We worked together as a community, relying on plan advisors, best practices, town data and reports, and ideas from community members to identify climate actions that are the biggest priorities for Watertown.

The result is fifteen top actions organized into 3 plan elements: infrastructure, socio-economic, and environmental. We are seeking to encourage green infrastructure and healthy environments for shade trees, develop a sidewalk inventory, improve communication during intense storms, and coordinate with the MBTA on their resilience efforts.  These actions help support a strong and resilient Watertown in the face of increasing climate threats.  Increasing resilience across socio-economic lines, through emergency preparedness kits and plans, as well as incentives to landlords to make resiliency improvements, will strengthen community wide resilience efforts.   Finally, we are seeking to acquire more open space for conservation and recreation. Ensuring that our natural resources can adapt to a changing climate will require that we conserve water, practice sustainable landscaping, and increase our urban tree canopy.

Read the Summary of Findings here

What’s next? Soon we will embark on a Comprehensive Climate and Energy Plan process that will build upon the work already done and will set Watertown on a clear and organized path forward towards climate resilience. Incorporating the fifteen top actions identified this past year, we will dig deeper into the issues, use the best available data and best practices, and have meaningful conversations with all types of people who live, work, and learn in Watertown. The final Climate Plan will reflect the priorities and concerns of the Watertown community and will cover topics such as energy, transportation, open space, preparedness, and more.

The Dashboard: Learning more and getting involved

Success in achieving our community’s ambitious goals will require an all-hands-on-deck approach. You can get started today by learning more about the Resilient Watertown and how you can get involved with our exciting new interactive website, the Resilient Watertown Dashboard!

  • Explore the Dashboard – Use this site as an interactive way to learn about the priority actions and explore the detailed implementation blueprints.  Each tile on the dashboard explains how that element is critical to climate action and allows you to track and interact with some of the key indicators of success.
  • Know what’s happening – As we develop our Climate Plan and begin implementation, we’ll update the status of the priority actions so we can track our progress. We’ll also be sharing regular updates via this blog on how you can get involved.
  • Take action – Whether you have a passion for electric vehicles or natural resources, or you just want to find easy ways to contribute, this is where you can find out how to get involved and help us meet our goals outlined in the plan.