Quantifying sea level rise effects on critical coastal wastewater and transit infrastructure in two low-income, residential developments at the San Francisco Bay, California shoreline using hydrogeology and geochemistry measurements

Project Number
Project Date Range
Funding Agency
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Focus Area(s)
Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies

Sea level rise (SLR) vulnerability analysis of critical wastewater and transit infrastructure requires data collection over timescales and geographic ranges that are small enough for planning and mitigation efforts. Flooding of wastewater infrastructure will increase with SLR, damaging pipes, pumps, and causing sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) and pipe backflows, all of which creates human health exposure risks and environmental damage. Regular flooding of roads causes delays and damages transit infrastructure. Capital improvement projects for future wastewater and transit infrastructure projects are funded over 30-year cycles, and the next set of projects requires detailed field measurements to calculate projected SLR. The team will study two areas developed on the San Francisco Bay margin that have higher flood frequencies than similar nearby communities. The study locations also reflect the intersection of socioeconomically disadvantaged areas with high flood vulnerability and critical wastewater and transit infrastructure that may be disproportionately impacted by SLR. 

The research question is how to quantify, model and communicate the vulnerabilities of SLR and groundwater flooding on urban infrastructure at a geospatial and temporal scale appropriate for local planning and mitigation? The goal is to collect field data to identify groundwater flooding, SSOs, and road flooding to better understand the short-term impacts of SLR. The outputs aim to provide real-time advance warnings to agencies and residents of impending SSOs and road flooding, as well as to identify sources of floodwaters. Effective measurement and management of SLR, groundwater flooding, and SSOs requires quantification of flood factors of the urban coastal water balance, such as precipitation, evapotranspiration, sewer flow, stormwater flow, surface flow, tidal elevations, barometric pressure, wind direction, and other factors.

Principal Investigators
James Jacobs
University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC)
Co-principal Investigators
Adina Paytan
University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC)

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