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Green Infrastructure for Rising Sea Levels | Molly Wood

Green Infrastructure for Rising Sea Levels | Molly Wood


Hi, I’m Molly Wood from “Marketplace Tech,” and I’m here at the Oro Loma Sanitary District. I’m about thirty, forty-five minutes south of San Francisco and Oakland. And we’re here as part of our climate change adaptation series. We’re looking at a research project that’s been installed here at this wastewater treatment plant. It’s called a horizontal levee. So this is essentially a completely different type of levee. The levees that we’re used to are called “engineered levees,” and they’re made out of concrete or steel. They’re basically walls that keep out water. This levee is meant to use the power of nature to adapt to sea level rise and then, on top of that, provide all these benefits, like habitat for birds and fish and other kinds of animals. And it looks really pretty.  This is a pretty standard Bay Area scene, right? This is sort of what the areas around Silicon Valley look like? You can see this all around the Bay, but particularly in the East Bay and the South Bay. Right. You see a city, a marsh or a salt pond, and then the Bay itself. And that’s a common set of features. And what we’re trying to do is make those features more resilient to sea level rise. Right. Because, clearly, we are at sea level. We are literally at sea level. Marshes give us tons of services through a complex system. So they make an incredible amount of food, they’re one of the most productive places on earth. They support wildlife and protect the shoreline by knocking down waves, they sort of absorb the energy and they make the waves lower. They absorb water, so they can help with flood control in particular situations. They process nutrients, like this hybrid-engineered levee does, and they’re awesome for recreation. When we talk to people over and over again who come out and look at this, they say yes, this is the type of infrastructure that we want to see. We don’t want to see giant concrete levees. We want to see a natural system that’s providing habitat, that’s providing water quality, robust flood protection. The next stage is showing that the concept works and then we’ve got to engineer it so it’s buildable, and it’s affordable. Right. And it’s legal. That seems reasonable. It’s reasonable. Yeah. At the moment, this is probably illegal, unfundable, infeasible. But we’re working on it. Trust us.

Comments (8)

  1. Concrete can be great in areas trying to rebuild oyster populations. Special formulas like Oysterkrete from ORA Estuaries attract oyster larva and provide them a place to survive.

  2. What part of the horizontal levee is illegal?

  3. Dealing with this issue is a trillion dollar industry. Think New Orleans.

  4. This is everything I want in a YouTube explainer: a short, dense, well-edited showcase of an obscure piece of infrastructure.

  5. what a great idea

  6. I consider the outcome of neglected risks of global warming since fifties and still dealing with its consequences as an anthropological problem.

  7. Well symptoms is all we ever try to combat. Why is that?

  8. Who pays for this?.

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