Anne Arundel Co. names new ‘resilience’ leader tasked with preparing for rising sea levels

A new agency being built from the ground up — with an ultimate focus on the literal ground of Anne Arundel County and the city of Annapolis in Maryland — has its first leader.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman says the county’s new Resilience Authority will be led by Dan Nees, who currently works for the private-sector group, Throwe Environmental. He’s also a senior fellow at the University of Maryland’s Center for Global Sustainability.

Pittman called Nees a national expert on resilience authorities and the financing of resilience projects.

The county’s Resilience Authority was created 11 months ago and the recent budget proposed by Pittman includes $1 million to help get off the ground. Once it’s up and running, the quasi-government agency will be tasked with helping to fund projects aimed at helping the county’s infrastructure weather the effects of climate change and rising sea levels.

One of the first projects likely to get a boost from the new authority will be the Annapolis City Dock area, which Annapolis has spent years on plans to redevelop in an effort to make it less prone to flooding. Eventually, the hope is to raise the dock by six-feet.

“This is going to be another feather in the cap for us,” said Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley. “We cannot ignore sea level rise or catastrophic weather events any longer and we have to realize the cost that comes with them. That cost can be an opportunity.”

Right now, Nees is the director of finance and policy at Throwe Environmental. County leaders have consulted with him throughout the process of getting the Resilience Authority off the ground.

“There’s no question there are some very real issues and very real threats that need addressed,” Nees said. “This is genuinely an opportunity. Developing this institution will ensure that every dollar, public or private, that’s invested in the infrastructure of this community is as efficient and effective as possible.”

Pittman, the county executive, said “This is the organization that’s going to make it possible for us to protect our public infrastructure as well as some existing private infrastructure from the impacts of climate change, from sea level rises and storm surges. The first step is staffing it.”

Pittman said Nees will play a role in helping to get the agency up and running, laying a foundation that will guide it in its decision making. He’ll also help choose the first members of the board who will then be tasked with picking a permanent director down the line.

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John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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