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Marin County is preparing for rising sea levels

Sunset and fog over parts of Marin County
Veit Irtenkauf
Flickr / Creative Commons
Sunset and fog over parts of Marin County

Sea levels along the US coastline are expected to rise between 10-12 inches by 2050. But according to the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission – or BCDC – we don’t just need to worry about rising sea levels, we also need to be planning for storm surges and rising tides, which – in conjunction with rising sea level – has the potential to cause tremendous damage to the Bay Area.

Dana Brechwald is the assistant planning director for climate adaptation at BCDC. She had this to say at Tuesday's hearing:

"If nothing is done to adapt to sea level rise a stark picture emerges around the bay. In as little as 40 years we could see impacts to our interconnected region wide systems, such as disruption to 5 million daily car commuters and 60,000 rail commuters. Flooding of tens of thousands of existing housing units and planned housing units as well as existing and planned jobs, impacts to nearly 30,000 socially vulnerable residents and 20,000 acres of depressional wetlands, lagunes and tidal marshes that could drown. So it doesn’t matter if you don’t live near the shoreline, this is an issue that could potentially affect everyone in the Bay."

That’s why, on Tuesday, the BCDC spoke to the Marin County Board of Supervisors about a proposed $110 billion “shoreline resiliency program.” It sounds like a lot of money, but according to Brechwald, it’s less than half of what it will cost if the Bay Area does nothing – that's an estimated minimum of $230 billion.

The program includes resiliency work on highway 37, marsh and wetland restoration and additional climate assessments. It also stresses the need for a holistic approach to shoreline protection.

On Thursday, over 130 people joined a virtual community meeting where residents were invited to give feedback on the plan.

You can learn more about the regional shoreline adaptation plan at www.bayadapt.org

Wren Farrell (he/him) is a writer, producer and journalist living in San Francisco.