Local expert Aldaron Laird said, ‘We need to be hustling and get this stuff done now’
The future for coastal regions like Humboldt County is expected to get “floodier.”
A report released Wednesday by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that sunny day flooding, also known as tidal flooding, will continue to increase. This year, Humboldt Bay is expected to experience six to 12 days of sunny day flooding after experiencing 12 such days in 2018.
Aldaron Laird, an environmental consultant with Trinity Associates, has been working on the issue of sea level rise in Humboldt Bay for over a decade and said the local jurisdictions are making steady progress to address the issue. They first did an inventory of the areas that would be most susceptible to sea level rise, which include King Salmon and Fields Landing, and are now shifting gears toward preventing the damage it will cause.
Caltrans will be going before the California Coastal Commission in August to go over the impact of sea level rise on the U.S. Highway 101 corridor.
“Over the next five to 10 years,” Laird said, “that’s when all this stuff will get worked out.” But Laird said that timeline is “cutting it close.”
While the utility owners and Caltrans rely on the dikes to protect Highway 101 and the utility lines, Laird said many of the dikes are eroding and lie in various states of disrepair. The dikes are mostly 10 feet tall and the tides have risen to about nine feet tall, so Laird said just one foot of sea level rise will lead to thousands of acres being flooded every day.
“We could have two feet of sea level rise by 2030 or 2050,” Laird said.