'Milestone' Achieved in Protecting Bay Area from Sea Level Rise

Published Aug. 13, 2018
A levee spanning a tidal marsh in Alviso, Calif. that will be raised as part of flood mitigation efforts to protect the South Bay.

A levee spanning a tidal marsh in Alviso, Calif. that will be raised as part of flood mitigation efforts to protect the South Bay.

A wealthy region of the Bay Area that is home to the world’s most profitable companies yet on the frontline of threatened sea level rise has been given reassurance by the Army Corps of Engineers and California’s senior senator that help is on the way.

Ten years in the making, the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Project is moving forward now that the federal government has approved more than $177 million in assistance to bolster dikes and restore habitat in an area that is partly below sea level and prone to flooding.   With that assistance now assured, the Corps’ San Francisco District will begin work on providing flood protection for a densely populated region along the South San Francisco Bay while embarking on what will be the largest wetland restoration project west of the Mississippi.  Partnering with the Corps are the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the California Coastal Conservancy as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“What we have achieved here is the beginning of a very meaningful team and teams accomplish things,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein at an Aug. 10 event in Alviso, Calif. to mark what everyone involved described as a milestone for flood protection in the region.   “The Army Corps of Engineers is diligent and they’re very good at what they do.”

When complete, the project will safeguard homes and businesses along the South Bay by restoring four miles levees as well as some 2,800 acres of tidal marsh along with creating improved access for recreation.   The region’s flood risk has been compounded by threats of sea level rise which has become an increasingly urgent environmental issue for the Bay Area including in San Francisco to the north, where efforts are focused on rebuilding the city’s deteriorating seawall, an issue that the Corps and the city are now studying.  “To a region at risk of tidal flooding exacerbated by the scenario of sea level rise, this investment is an important step,” the Corps’ San Francisco District Commander Lt. Col. Travis Rayfield told those gathered to mark the milestone.  Some predict that sea levels in the affected region could rise by as much as three feet over the next half century.  With the South Bay being “one of the biggest engines of the nation’s economy”, Rayfield called the federal investment in flood protection “a wise investment of taxpayer money.”