New Threat to Coastal Communities: Sea Level Rise Will Push Groundwater Up

by on August 18, 2020 · 1 comment

in California, Environment, Ocean Beach

By Rosanna Xia / Los Angeles Times / Aug. 17, 2020

Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, yet a world away from San Francisco, in an unincorporated and oft-overlooked area known as Marin City, sea level rise is rarely the first worry that comes to mind.

Traditional flood maps for this predominantly Black and working-class community suggest that the area is safe until the sea-level rise reaches three feet or more.

But sea level rise is a lot more complicated than just waves breaking over seawalls and beaches disappearing.

Imagine the groundwater beneath your feet. As the ocean moves inland, it will push all this trapped water upward until it breaks the surface. Basements will heave, brackish water could corrode sewer pipes, toxic contaminants buried in the soil could bubble up and spread.

In many areas along San Francisco Bay, this sea beneath us is already leaking out of the ground, said Kristina Hill, whose research at UC Berkeley focuses on this less-talked-about vulnerability. With even 1 foot more of sea rise, an unexpected swath of Marin City could increasingly flood.

Aside from homes and roads, human health is also a huge concern, she said. “Any pollution in the soil, capped from above but lying just below, will be re-mobilized.”

From Northern to Southern California, scientists and planners are waking up to the reality that rising seas will not only threaten California’s precious shoreline — but also areas once considered less vulnerable from flooding. In the Bay Area alone, Hill and her team found that more than twice as much land could flood from groundwater as the ocean rises.

For the balance of this important article, please go here.

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Avatar Nanci Kelly August 19, 2020 at 9:00 pm

Thank you very much for this article and the information regarding groundwater/infrastructure that it provided. Many of us imagine sea level rise as becoming a problem at the point when a wave comes crashing into our living rooms. This couldn’t be further from the case. If we don’t address our climate change crisis in a meaningful way now our children and grandchildren (and my past students children…any child whose future you may care about) will be dealing with infrastructure failures (e.g. fresh water delivery, sewer system etc.) that will be monumental. Please read the articles above, begin/continue the often-tedious, anxiety-producing self-education process (the best resources in the nation are here at Scripps) to inform your decision-making regarding our future. Thanks again.

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