Monday, April 18, 2011

Solano County California prepares for future rise in sea levels

Melissa Murphy in the Reporter (Vacaville, California): It might not happen for more than three decades, but Solano County and its cities are preparing now for a rise in sea levels. To address sea level rise at a local level, the county has a Sea Level Rise Strategic Program, which projects a 12- to 18-inch increase in sea levels by 2050 and a 55-inch increase by 2100.

In the county, climate change and the rise in sea level is expected to "increase occurrences and severity of storm events, causing additional coastal flooding and saltwater intrusion ... rising temperatures may increase the likelihood of water and energy supply shortages, increased wildfire risk, habitat loss and species endangerment, declining agricultural production and changes in crops and the distribution of diseases and other public health problems," according to the county's Sea Level Rise Strategic Program.

Because of the rise in water levels, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) is considering proposed zoning controls and guidelines that would discourage new development and economic activity in low-lying areas near the bay shoreline and contemplate abandoning unspecified urban areas in the face of rising sea waters.

Supervisor Mike Reagan explained that rising sea levels are gradual. "It's risen six inches from the time they began recording it and nobody even noticed it," he said. "It's so gradual, we just need to keep up with it." He said there is a theory to abandon all flood planes, but it's not a good idea. "There are lot of engineering solutions, but for some reason they aren't going for it.

Suisun City recently announced that it opposes a method of retreat. "The idea of retreating doesn't make sense," said April Wooden, community development director for Suisun City. "We want to protect the development we already have and the in-fill property."

Wooden said the BCDC should be taking its time to develop a well thought out plan and not a "short term reactionary solution." "It's not the time to come up with a very quick solution for something that will take decades for it to impact," she added….

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