Monday, August 31, 2009

Delta levee projects in California must now prepare for rising sea level

Matt Weiser in the Sacramento Bee: Levee projects in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will have to account for rising sea levels under a new federal policy aimed at shoring up the region's main line of defense against climate change. It's the first comprehensive policy by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to require that projects under its jurisdiction be designed with higher sea levels in mind.

Many low-lying areas on the edges of the Delta would be under water given the higher seawater levels predicted by the end of this century. Fragile Delta levees also could be overtopped, especially when high tides and storm surges are added into the mix.

…One of the oldest sea level monitors on the West Coast, at the Golden Gate Bridge, has recorded a sea level increase of about 2 centimeters per decade during the 1900s. This rate is expected to continue due to human consumption of fossil fuels, which scientists believe is gradually warming the Earth's climate.

Failure to consider this increase in new levees and coastal structures – such as buildings, water intakes and wastewater outfalls – could mean these investments are jeopardized later, or that people are put at risk….

Morning fog at the Golden Gate Bridge, shot by Grombo, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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