SF Civil Grand Jury Issues Report on Rising Sea Levels

San Francisco’s Civil Grand Jury issued a report this week on how rising sea levels will most likely affect San Francisco and what city agencies are doing to address the problem.

The Civil Grand Jury, a 19-member volunteer panel who serve for one year investigating various topics, found that there is no comprehensive response plan if major flooding occurs in San Francisco as a consequence of climate change.

The jury, whose members were selected by the San Francisco Superior Court through an application process, found there are serious risks to city buildings and infrastructure, such as the wastewater treatment system, which includes three plants.

Those plants are the Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant in the Bayview, which was built in 1952 and treats 80 percent of the city’s wastewater; the Oceanside Treatment Plant on the Great Highway near the San Francisco Zoo, which was built in 1993 and treats 20 percent of wastewater; and the North Point Weather Facility on Bay Street and the Embarcadero, which was built in 1951 and is only operated during wet weather to handle up to 150 million gallons per day of stormwater, according to jury findings.

At Ocean Beach, San Francisco International Airport and along the Embarcadero and other Port property and piers there are limited plans in place to protect those exposed areas.

Other vulnerable areas listed in the report are Crissy Field and Treasure Island.

The jury cited figures from the state Coastal Commission and San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission that place sea levels rising to 16 inches by 2050 and 55 inches by 2100.

The gradual destruction of flooding is known throughout all city agencies the jury contacted and interviewed, the jury found.

However despite certain plans and suggestions for vulnerable areas, there is no citywide plan to adapt to rising sea levels or change the city’s planning and building codes to account for the impacts of sea level rise, according to the report.

The jury recommended an awareness campaign and a consistent city policy regarding rising water levels, especially in regard to future development.

The panel also recommended a surcharge by the Port of San Francisco on property leases to establish a reserve fund, along with other funding programs. The mayor and Board of Supervisors were urged to create a local working group to look into hazards and regional plans to mitigate

The Board of Supervisors will conduct a public hearing on this report, and every agency named in the report must respond to the jury with their decisions on the proposed recommendations.

The full report is available online at http://civilgrandjury.sfgov.org/report.html.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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