Climate Change Adaptation in Action
San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority Factors Future Sea Level Rise into Coordinated, Watershed-Level Flood Protection
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Many Bay Area communities are facing increased flood risk as sea level continues to rise and storm and flooding events potentially become more intense. Communities along the San Francisquito creek are no exception, and sea level rise stands to exacerbate existing flood protection challenges that have occurred in the past with heavy storms causing millions of dollars in damages. The San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority (SFCJPA), covering a 30,000 acre watershed, has sought to address these challenges by working to simultaneously improve flood protection, recreational opportunities and habitat benefits to multiple communities. The SFCJPA San Francisco Bay to Highway 101 flood protection project is designed to protect against a 100-year San Franciscquito creek flow event happening at the same time as a 100-year high tide event that is marked by a sea level rise of 26 inches. The SFCJPA assumed this design would be resilient for 50 years using Army Corps of Engineers standards. For this proposed project, finding common ground among all interested parties was key to incorporating innovative flood protection techniques. To address the diverse interests of the SFCJPA partners and project stakeholders, the fundamental goal is to change this waterway from one that divides multiple, neighboring communities into one that unites them around a more natural water runoff system that is less prone to flooding.
- After a flood in 1998 caused serious damage to many properties in all jurisdictions, it became apparent that better coordination between agencies was needed to protect residents. Strong working relationships and leadership was key in facilitating the process for the SFCJPA.
- Designing to high flood protection criteria requires continued buy-in and support from elected officials, staff and stakeholders.
- Identifying common interests among all parties allowed project managers to effectively design flood protection for communities that is also resilient to possible future sea level rise. This awareness enabled the SFCJPA to work across jurisdictional boundaries and develop a project that addresses a large part of the watershed system that could be affected by flood events.