New report takes deep dive into rising seas

Seal level rise
Flooded intersection in Mill Valley near Highway 101 in Marin. Myles Boisen.

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) has issued an analysis of the myriad impacts rising sea level will have on Bay Area communities, illuminating where the region is most vulnerable and detailing recommendations for future planning.

Developed with support from MTC, the Association of Bay Area Governments, Caltrans and the multi-agency Bay Area Regional Collaborative, Adapting to Rising Tides Bay Area is the first-ever comparison of the impacts of rising sea level on the Bay Area's people, environment and transportation systems. To support its region-wide analysis, BCDC initiated 32 in-depth studies to better understand how the impacts of rising sea level might play out over time, with different locations and systems analyzed at a total of 10 separate flood levels ranging from 12 inches to 108 inches.

All Bay Area residents will be affected by sea level rise and storm events. Driving on highways will be affected by as little as one foot of flooding, halting the commutes of hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors daily. With two feet of flooding, communities will start feeling serious impacts to their homes and jobs.

But these impacts are not inevitable. Local adaptation planning already is underway in some communities, and ART Bay Area indicates additional planning — done more quickly and with more coordination can help address current issues and meet future threats.

"The current global health crisis caused by Covid-19 is a reminder that our collective future can be an uncertain one," said Dana Brechwald, BCDC's program manager for the ART Bay Area project. "Sea level rise is just one of many factors that will influence how we live, work, and engage with our environment and communities in the Bay Area in coming decades – and the cost of inaction is too high.  But it may also serve as a reminder of two things: that our society can come together for the greater good, and that targeted, coordinated action can create better outcomes. ART Bay Area helps move the region forward in making decisions about how best to manage sea level rise to ensure our future is safe and resilient."

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