New State Agency Sea-Level Rise Action Plan for California

New state action plan provides a five-year roadmap to address sea-level rise

April 4, 2022

Last month, California’s State Sea-Level Rise (SLR) Leadership Team presented the State Agency Sea-Level Rise Action Plan for California (Action Plan). The Action Plan establishes a five-year roadmap of nearly 80 action items designed to help the state adapt to sea-level rise. Each action item is trackable, assigned leading and supporting agencies, and tied to target timelines. At the highest level, the Action Plan is designed to formalize and catalyze state agency efforts to prepare the entire coast of California for sea-level rise, including pathways to resiliency against 3.5 ft by 2050 and 6.0 ft by 2100.

According to latest state assessments, sea-level rise and storm surges endanger over $22 billion of property and infrastructure in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and threaten to erode 31–67% of Southern California beaches by 2100. California has demonstrated continual prioritization of coastal resilience through funding, legislation, and planning, but ongoing efforts require a coordinated state-level roadmap. For this reason, the Action Plan has been developed by the State SLR Leadership Team, led by the Ocean Protection Council (OPC) in collaboration with 16 other agencies including the California Water Boards, Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), Department of Toxic Substances and Control (DTSC), Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Department of Insurance (CDI), and Energy Commission (CEC).

This same group of agencies will also be responsible for advising the state legislature on projects and funding associated with the Sea Level Rise Mitigation and Adaptation Act, a bill signed by Governor Newsom in September 2021 that requires the inclusion of sea-level rise in coastal development, adaptation, and mitigation efforts. The State SLR Leadership Team will consider revisions to the plan based on public comment and tribal consultation through spring/summer 2022 and evaluate the progress of the Action Plan on an annual basis thereafter.

How Exponent Can Help

The Action Plan is designed following California Sea-Level Rise Principles, the foremost of which is to inform sea-level-rise-related projects, policy, and decision-making using the best available science. Exponent offers strategic, multidisciplinary scientific consulting to public and private sector stakeholders seeking to understand and mitigate the risks of SLR. We can assist clients by leveraging the best available science to assess strategic solutions following the roadmap, policies, and legislation associated with the Action Plan. We can provide expert counsel on the planning and implementation of coastal intervention strategies (e.g., seawalls, groins) and nature-based solutions (e.g., dunes, vegetation, sediment diversions); assess and address vulnerability of coastal infrastructure (e.g., wastewater treatment plants, refineries); evaluate impacts of salinity intrusion to surface water supplies and coastal groundwater basins; evaluate flooding and erosion risks in the face of sea-level rise, extreme weather, and storm surges; and assess habitat vulnerability. Armed with our broad expertise in civil and environmental engineering, construction consulting, public health, ecological and environmental sciences, hydrology, and more than 80 other technical disciplines, Exponent offers unrivaled skills and resources to develop objective solutions for important problems related to rising sea levels.

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