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Study Shows How Rising Sea Levels Could Put Parts Of Marin Underwater

SAN RAFAEL (KPIX 5) -- A new report presented to Marin County officials Tuesday highlights hundreds of buildings at risk of flooding in the next 15 years and beyond due to rising sea levels.

The study is a stunning wake-up call about the pending danger.

Chris Choo, the principle planner with the Marin County Department of Public Works, led the effort to put together a report to show the future of the region when sea levels rise.

"Marin already floods. One of the things with seal level rise is that a lot of the areas that had traditionally been wetlands before we developed them return to wetlands," explained Choo. "It's really just a catalog of all of the impacts.

Last year, Highway 37 in Marin was shut down for 27 days because of flooding. Residents are faced with the possibility of that type of closure being permanent.

According to the report, in just 15 years, areas including Bel Marin Keys, Santa Venetia, San Rafael and Greenbrae will face 10 inches of sea level rise.

Marin County Supervisor Dennis Rodoni represents Corte Madera and San Rafael, areas that will be seriously impacted by sea level rise according to the report.

"So there's a lot of areas that involve residential neighborhoods that are going be impacted," said Rodoni. "It's going to be a challenge, because we don't even know what the scale and scope of the cost of the projects are yet and what they may cost."

The public has until May 29 to comment on the report, the next step is developing a plan to deal with the flooding and how to finance the plan.

"This is likely to be a very expensive proposition for everyone involved," said Jack Liebster, who leads the Marin Community Developent Agency.

Last year, Bay Area voters approved Prop AA, a parcel tax to fund Bay restoration. That will be one of several funding sources needed to pay for the fixes. The alternative is grim.

"Our projections show that Stinson Beach will be gone by the end of the century," said Liebster.

KPIX 5 asked if the county had plans to ask for federal assistance, but officials said that they felt this was a long-term project and there could be another administration that might be more amenable to providing funding for fixes like a horizontal levee system or a pump system.

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