San Francisco Prepares for Water From All Directions

San Francisco County

By Isaac Pearlman

“Even a city with as many resources as San Francisco has can’t do this [alone],” says the director of the Port of San Francisco’s Waterfront Resilience Program Lindy Lowe, speaking of the climate change threats looming over the City by the Bay. “It’s too big.” The perils San Francisco faces include three-to-ten feet of sea-level rise this century, a sharp increase in extreme heat days, and more severe floods and drought. As city officials grapple with today’s severe housing and inequality crises, they are also confronting the need to preserve aging infrastructure, such as the city’s hundred-year-old stormwater system and a busy international airport that sits below sea level. But perhaps no one confronts a bigger challenge than Lowe: reinforce the city’s 7.5-mile bayside shoreline, where a sagging century-old seawall built atop unstable, muddy fill is all that stands between the rising San Francisco Bay and $22 billion worth of real estate.

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SF Waterfront Resilience Program

City Hazards & Resilience Plan

SFO Airport Shoreline Protection Project Feasibility Report

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About the author

Isaac Pearlman covers sea level rise, flooding, and other topics for ESTUARY. A Bay Area native, Isaac's writing is informed by his master's degree in environmental science, as well as many adventures from living and working in South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia. His stories and essays have been featured in Earth Island Journal, the Progressive Populist, and Ecosystems among other outlets.

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