Jay Gamel, THE KENWOOD PRESS
Highway 37 is already deteriorating due to water levels that were eight inches higher in 2014-2015 than predicted by the U.C. Davis studies just a few years ago. The central segment is basically an elevated berm, or dirt mound, roughly 10 feet higher than the bay water level. In storm and high tide conditions, water can be at the nine-foot level.
Sonoma County Supervisors listened intently to plans to address State Highway 37 congestion and rising ocean levels that are likely to submerge portions of the North Bay’s major traffic conduit. Highway 37 connects Solano, Sonoma, and Marin counties along San Pablo Bay. Napa is intrinsically affected by what happens to the highway as well.
The issues driving Highway 37 congestion work the same for Highway 12 through the Valley of the Moon – rising housing costs in Sonoma and Marin are driving more of their workforce to Solano and other East Bay counties in search of affordable housing.
The transportation departments of all four counties are working to find the best solutions to replacing or rebuilding the 21-mile corridor, which isn’t easy in the current fiscal landscape.
“There is no money for transportation projects,” Sonoma County Transportation Authority Director Suzanne Smith told the county supervisors on Aug. 9. “There are no Measure M bond funds, no North Bay tax measures, and very little likelihood of state action this year.”
In May of this year, United Bridge Partners, a private group, offered to rebuild the two-lane segment and finance it with tolls. California has very few privately funded roads, toll or otherwise, and special legislation would be necessary to make this work. That proposal will be considered, Smith said, along with every other type of possible funding.
Read more at: The Kenwood Press – Saving Highway 37 from flooding will be an expensive, long-term project
Eric Gneckow, PETALUMA ARGUS-COURIER
Two significant flood control projects are moving forward in Petaluma, the latest steps in the city’s long-term quest to fortify itself against rising waters.
The Petaluma City Council on Monday authorized a $1.4 million project for a section of the city’s Capri Creek, which will bolster flood protections in the area around Sunrise Parkway and North McDowell Boulevard. The work will also include habitat improvements and the installation of educational materials.
A separate $3.1 million project authorized in July will improve protections in an area of the Petaluma River upstream of Corona Road, while also adding a riverfront stretch of bicycle and pedestrian pathway. It is the third and final phase of recent flood protection work in the area known as Denman Reach.
On the heels of the completion of a major $41.5 million floodwall project spanning north from Lakeville Street, the work is another milestone in a long-term flood control effort in Petaluma, said Dan St. John, the city’s director of public works and utilities.
Read more at: Petaluma OKs two flood control projects | Petaluma Argus Courier | Petaluma360.com
Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A ballot measure expected to raise $500 million over two decades for wetlands restoration and other projects designed to improve the health and resilience of San Francisco Bay passed Tuesday.
As of Wednesday morning, the measure received 69.3 percent of the vote. To pass, it needed support from two-thirds majority, or 66.7 percent of voters within the nine Bay Area counties.The measure fell short with 63.3 percent of the vote in Sonoma County, one of four North and East Bay counties where it trailed. The others were Napa, Solano and Contra Costa counties.
The measure, the San Francisco Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention and Habitat Restoration Program, would impose a $12-a-year parcel tax on property owners in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma and San Francisco counties, generating about $25 million a year over its 20-year lifespan.
The money would be used to fund a host of shoreline projects around the region intended to restore tidal marshes and freshwater wetlands that play a critical role in filtering bay water, creating wildlife habitat and buffering against flooding and climate-related sea rise.
Wetlands are the bay’s “heart and lungs,” keeping the water clean and providing abundant wildlife habitat, according to Save the Bay, an environmental advocacy group. Yet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the region has lost 95 percent of its original wetlands due to human activity since the mid-19th century.
“We’ve done extensive polling on the measure and about people’s attitudes toward the bay for many, many years,” said David Pine, chairman of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority. “What’s encouraging is people across the bay — even those who don’t live near the bay shore — have a strong affinity toward the bay and see it as a defining asset of our area and one that needs to be passed on to the next generation in better shape than we got it.”
Source: Bay Area wetland restoration tax passes | The Press Democrat
Denis Cuff, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS
Bay Area voters will be asked in June to approve a $12 annual parcel tax to protect and restore the San Francisco Bay shoreline and wetlands from rising sea levels due to climate change.
The proposed tax is believed to be the first to go on the ballot in all nine Bay Area counties. It needs two-thirds approval to pass.
In authorizing the measure unanimously on Wednesday, members of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority said the tax is needed to provide $500 million over 20 years to fortify levees and create flood relief plains to protect homes, businesses, airports, highways and parks around the bay, and restore wetlands important to fish and wildlife.
“This is a historic day for Bay Area counties to get together on wetlands restoration on a scale not seen before,” said Dave Pine, a San Mateo County supervisor who is chairman of the restoration authority board. “San Francisco Bay is a common resource people in our region want to protect. It’s part of our identity.”
The panel is made up of seven elected county, city and special district officials who oversee a partnership that aims to protect bay wildlife and wetlands.
Board members, environmentalist and business leaders say the tax is needed to guard against the growing risk of flooding from rising sea levels because of climate change. Scientists predict the sea level to rise 3 to 5 feet through 2100.
Business groups such as the Bay Area Council and Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and environmental groups such as Save San Francisco Bay, back the measure.
Read more at: Bay Area-wide tax aims to protect against rising sea levels – San Jose Mercury News
King Tides Project, CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION
Mark Your Calendars!
The California King Tides dates are:
- November 24, 25, and 26, 2015
- December 22, 23, and 24, 2015
- January 21 and 22, 2016
Check out this map of tide times and locations across California and read more about how to take and share your photos of King Tides.
The California King Tides Project helps people visualize how sea level rise will impact their lives. Via smartphones and social media, we invite everyone to document the highest high tides of today, which will be the average water levels of the future.
It’s easy to participate. Just pick a location, grab a camera or smartphone, and share your photos. Photos will be used to support citizen science efforts, to communicate about the effects of flooding today, and to spread awareness about the importance of protecting communities in the future.
Join a local event! Click to see just a few of the get-togethers happening around King Tides. Check these out, or join with a local organization to plan your own!
Laurie Goodstein & Justin Gillis, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Pope Francis has written the first papal encyclical focused solely on the environment, attempting to reframe care of the earth as a moral and spiritual concern, and not just a matter of politics, science and economics. In the document, “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home,” he argues that the environment is in crisis – cities to oceans, forests to farmland. He emphasizes that the poor are most affected by damage from what he describes as economic systems that favor the wealthy, and political systems that lack the courage to look beyond short-term rewards. But the encyclical is addressed to everyone on the planet. Its 184 pages are an urgent, accessible call to action, making a case that all is interconnected, including the solutions to the grave environmental crisis.
Pope Francis’ Encyclical “Laudato Si” View the Full Document
Read more at: On Planet in Distress, a Papal Call to Action – The New York Times
Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma County residents who live in rural places prone to flooding and those in urban areas who are unable to afford protection against rising heat will be among those who suffer the most if the extreme conditions predicted to come with climate change materialize as expected, county officials said Wednesday.
The stark message headlined a day-long conference at Sonoma State University about adapting to the world’s changing climate and the increasingly unpredictable weather it generates.
The impact of more wildfires, rising sea levels, heavier periods of rainfall and longer dry spells will be widespread, scientists and public officials said Wednesday, affecting everything from the cost and availability of food to water supply, wildlife habitat and public safety.
The most vulnerable residents in Sonoma County are expected to be those living along the lower Russian River, where flooding would be more frequent; those who live in coastal communities or low-lying areas subject to rising ocean tides; and disadvantaged urban neighborhoods in Santa Rosa, the Sonoma Valley and elsewhere, where air conditioning is rare and older, under-insulated homes would offer little defense against extreme heat, said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Susan Gorin.
“We need in the future to find out how we can help these communities adapt and survive,” she said.
Gorin’s comments kicked off a forum focused on climate adaptation at the local level, a first-of-its kind gathering in the county of scientists, conservationists, government planners, policymakers and others, organizers said.
Read more via Forum: Climate change to heighten flood, fire threat | The Press Democrat.
Justin Gillis, NYTIMES.COM
Last year was the hottest on earth since record-keeping began in 1880, scientists reported on Friday, underscoring warnings about the risks of runaway greenhouse gas emissions and undermining claims by climate change contrarians that global warming had somehow stopped.
Extreme heat blanketed Alaska and much of the western United States last year. Records were set across large areas of every inhabited continent. And the ocean surface was unusually warm virtually everywhere except near Antarctica, the scientists said, providing the energy that fueled damaging Pacific storms.
In the annals of climatology, 2014 surpassed 2010 as the warmest year. The 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1997, a reflection of the relentless planetary warming that scientists say is a consequence of human activity and poses profound long-term risks to civilization and nature.
Read more via 2014 Breaks Heat Record, Challenging Global Warming Skeptics – NYTimes.com.
Scott Gold, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
A slow-motion and irreversible collapse of a massive cluster of glaciers in Antarctica has begun, and could cause sea levels to rise across the planet by another 4 feet within 200 years, scientists concluded in two studies released Monday.
Researchers had previously estimated that the cluster in the Amundsen Sea region of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet would last for thousands of years despite global climate change. But the new studies found that the loss is underway now as warming ocean water melts away the base of the ice shelf, and is occurring far more rapidly than scientists expected.
The warming water is tied to several environmental phenomena, including a warming of the planet driven by emissions from human activity and depleted ozone that has changed wind patterns in the area, the studies found.
"There is no red button to stop this," said Eric Rignot, a UC Irvine professor of Earth system science and the lead author of one of the studies, conducted with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and scheduled for publication in a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
The six glaciers have passed "the point of no return," Rignot said, which means that total collapse — the melted retreat of the glaciers — cannot be prevented. "The only question is how fast it’s going to go."
via Irreversible collapse of Antarctic glaciers has begun, studies say – Los Angeles Times.