Sea Level Rise in Alameda

Sea Level Rise in Alameda

Sea level rise will have significant effects on Alameda. Flooding as a result of sea level rise can affect the day-to-day lives of residents but if we know what to expect, it will be easier to adjust to the changes that would come as a result. Underground infrastructure can be heavily affected by water damage causing power outages, mold, and structural damage. If saltwater levels are high enough, metal assets such as pipes can corrode.

Many transportation routes, such as the Posey and Webster tubes, are also vulnerable to flooding. An obstruction to transportation would restrict access to services like hospitals and put the health and safety of the community at risk. The thought is very disturbing, but the city is not taking an idle position.

The City of Alameda is working on several major projects to protect high flood areas on both Bay Farm and the main island. Through a combination of short-term adaptations and long-term planning, these projects form a cohesive preservation plan for the city. Veterans Court, near the entrance to Bay Farm via the bridge, is one of the focal points the city is addressing (“Congresswoman Barbara Lee Holds Press Conference in Alameda,” June 7; The city plans to repair the existing seawall, a road elevation, and the addition of aquatic vegetation to abate wave erosion. The long-term plan is to transform the area into a living levee with better natural drainage, an action based on the city’s motto “Welcome the Water.” Sea level rise is inevitable, so part of the adaptation is learning to live with water and let it in where we can.

Following the same motto are the plans for DePave Park. Located across the new Seaplane Lagoon ferry terminal, DePave Park has recently received funding to revamp the concrete landing into a tidal ecology system. The designs include 18 acres of habitats, with increased shoreline, habitat jetties, wetlands, and a boardwalk raised to account for sea level rise. In connection with the existing VA wetlands, the park will form intertidal environments, wildlife habitats, and aid in carbon sequestration. These projects not only prevent flooding, but they also support the surrounding aquatic ecosystems.

Transportation and access to the island is another matter to take into consideration. The Posey and Webster tubes, one of the major routes to and from Oakland, is at high risk of flooding. Caltrans has plans for the tubes involving new salt water resistant pumps, flood walls, and flood proofed infrastructure. Meanwhile, the city is focused on the surrounding shoreline and has received a grant to carry out adaptation designs in the area. These designs include raising and reconstructing levees and seawalls, floodproofing critical facilities like the Hazardous Materials Transfer Station, and reworking the existing public trail to accommodate flooding through additional vegetation and natural water tolerant features.

Doolittle Drive is another notable access point to the island in need of remodeling. The road winds along the estuary and is a low spot on the island, making it an entryway for inundation in parts of Bay Farm. There are currently several possible solutions in consideration, some of which include raising the road onto a horizontal levee, extending Arrowhead Marsh, or regrading the airplane field. Although the low-lying road significantly affects flooding within Alameda, taking action is complicated as the road itself is in Oakland. To this end, the city has partnered with over 30 other organizations like Caltrans and East Bay Regional Parks to form the San Leandro Bay/Oakland-Alameda Estuary Adaptation Working Group. Together, this collaborative aims to form a more coordinated adaptation strategy to protect all the communities along our shoreline.

The city and surrounding partners are making great strides in flood preparation, but there are two sides to reducing sea level rise concerns: adaptation and prevention. Within our community, every individual plays a part. While the city is working on plans for adaptation, everyday citizens can contribute to prevention by reducing our carbon footprint and living more sustainably. This can involve small changes to daily routines, like choosing to bike instead of drive, replacing gas appliances with electric ones, bringing a reusable cup to coffee shops and more.

For more ideas check out the Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda climate protection checklist at

Olivia Alexander and Tavi Braun are Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda and City of Alameda summer interns