Report: Solution for rising Bay Area sea levels lies in nature

RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- Rising sea levels are expected to put thousands of Bay Area homes at risk in the next 30 years, but a new report says there's a solution and lies in nature.

"The time we have to act grows shorter and shorter," said Julie Beagle of Richmond's the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI).

They co-authored the report with the non-profit San Francisco Urban Planning (SPUR).

The report confirmed the findings of other studies: that sea levels could rise by as much as five feet in some places over the next 30 years.

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That would impact hundreds of thousands of people in every county that touches the Bay and could cause $100 billion dollars in property damage.

And Beagle says there's already signs that this is happening.

"Your best example of that was when Highway 37 closed for 6 weeks. It's only a harbinger of things to come."

The study says the solution will require cooperation and collaboration between all local city and county governments.

"As it currently stands, if each city, each county and each land owner goes it alone and tries to solve the problem individually we're going to wind up with a piece meal approach," explains Beagle

The Estuary Institute says a key part of the plan is to include solutions already found in nature, like artificial reefs, rocky beaches and special marshlands.

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"We can use the natural system like marshes, wetlands, beaches and hybrid approaches like horizontal levees."

But not everyone is buying into the new study including Richmond homeowners Tom and Cheryl Heinrich.

Their home rests on piers over the water in Richmond but they don't believe the problem is that urgent.

"There's been no evidence so far," said Tom Heinrich. "I-80 underwater, 101 underwater, everything on the coast is going to be underwater. It hasn't happened yet."

But according to SFEI it will happen soon.

They say a plan must be in place by 2030 or it may be too late.

The city of Richmond didn't provide us with an on camera interview, but referred us to the master plan 2030 which "calls for the city to develop a shoreline protection system that is initially built to accommodate a midterm rise in sea level of 16 inches."
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