New report shows the danger of rising sea levels

New report shows the  danger of rising sea levels
The city of Carlsbad released its report on possible rising sea levels and urges residents in the coastal zone to make necessary preparations. Photo by Steve Puterski

CARLSBAD — The possible risks of a rising sea level are detailed in a new report released by the city this week.

City staff completed a draft report showing how a rising sea level could result in future flooding and erosion along its coastline and around lagoons. Coastal cities throughout California are identifying possible risks from rising sea levels and developing ways to protect public infrastructure and private property.

The city urges property owners and residents, especially those in affected areas, to review the report and provide feedback. Based on this input, the city will refine the report and incorporate it into the update of its Local Coastal Program, which describes how land may be used in the city’s coastal zone.

“Community members play an important part in developing an accurate report and a workable plan for the future,” said Jennifer Jesser, a city planner who is overseeing the project. “There are a lot of options for how Carlsbad could deal with this issue, and we want to make sure what we recommend is in sync not just with the science, but the community’s priorities.”

The city of Carlsbad Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment identifies areas on the coast and around lagoons most susceptible to damage from an increase in the sea level. The report projects potential hazards over two timeframes — through 2050 and 2100.

It analyzes the relative risks and rates how vulnerable different areas are. The report also describes possible “adaptation strategies,” which are ways to help prevent future coastal flooding and erosion.

Areas included in the report are: beaches, which stretch for six and a half miles between Batiquitos and Buena Vista lagoons; areas where the public accesses beaches and lagoons; state parks and their amenities (Carlsbad State Beach, South Carlsbad State Beach and the state campground); individual parcels of private property in affected areas; critical infrastructure, such as power plants, electrical infrastructure and water and sewer lines; streets, bicycle and pedestrian paths, and trails; environmentally sensitive lands, such as the three lagoons and adjacent wetlands.

Based on accepted scientific models, the report evaluates potential effects of a rising sea level.

They include beaches becoming narrower because of a higher sea level; temporary flooding during severe storms and high tides; increased erosion of coastal bluffs due to exposure to ocean waves; and potential flooding of city lagoons during significant rainstorms.

The report notes low-lying areas may be extremely vulnerable to coastal flooding, such as Carlsbad Boulevard in the vicinity of Encinas Creek, which sustained damage during winter storms in December 2015 and January 2016. El Niño-driven rains teamed with astronomical high tides to batter the bluff along the roadway’s southbound lanes, undermining the shoulder and requiring emergency repairs. According to the report, such damage could become more common as the sea level rises.

The report is available on the city website and at libraries, City Hall and the Faraday Administration Center.

Comments may be sent through July 20 to Associate Planner Carl Stiehl at More information is available on the city’s website, including links to videos from the city’s recent community meeting about sea level rise.


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