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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Warriors architect and flood planning

How's this for irony: The company designing the new Warriors waterfront arena, AECOM, is also the company contracted by the federal government to do a study on the impact of climate change (and thus sea-level rise) on the national Flood Insurance Program. The idea: Let's figure out how broke the insurance plan is going to be if developed areas along coasts and rivers get flooded a lot more often.

Guess what? They will. In fact, the study's pretty alarming. You can download the pdf here. It notes, for example, that the 1 percent annual flood plain area (the area where there's a one percent annual chance of flooding) will grow by 45 percent. The graphics showing how much of the nation will be subject to regular, serious flooding by 2100 are frightening.

But here's what's really interesting. AECOM's team analyzed a few coastal areas -- North and Mid-Atlantic, Gulf Coast, and Northern Pacific -- but there's no specific detailed analysis for the Bay Area. The nationwide maps (if you have better eyes than me and look real close) seem to show catastrophic problems in the Bay Area and into the Central Valley. But AECOM doesn't break that down.

At any rate, you'd think the same company that has a fat federal contract to figure out where the insurance companies and the federal guarantees are going to get soaked might have figured out that the San Francisco waterfront isn't a great place to put a huge, expensive new arena. Unless we're all planning to swim there.

(And the Bay is awful cold during basketball season.)

1 comment:

  1. You've raised an awfully important issue, one that the US is woefully unprepared for. How could we be? We don't even accept the reality of global warming. However, planning for sea level rise is pretty well integrated in all current SF waterfront development. This includes Hunters Point, Treasure Is, the Giants, Pier 70 and presumably, the Warriors. The applicable engineering standard is planning to the year 2100 for a 55" (1.4m) sea level rise. That's reasonable for all current projections. It's gonna raise the price of basic infrastructure sharply, but those projects have already accounted for a BIG sea level rise. It's ironic, however, that much of the rest of downtown, SoMa and Mission Bay have not been similarly engineered and these areas are at FAR greater risk than the new developments. That is probably gonna become a pretty enormous financial issue in 2-3 decades.