Port and Navy Partner on Sea Level Rise Preparation; First of its Kind Agreement on the West Coast

As champions in the safekeeping and environmental care of San Diego Bay and our dynamic waterfront, the Port of San Diego has formally agreed to coordinate with the U.S. Navy to prepare for potential impacts of sea level rise.

At its meeting on May 8, 2018, the Board of Port Commissioners authorized a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Commander Navy Region Southwest, the first agreement of its kind between the U.S. Navy and a West Coast port. In support of both agencies’ operations and missions, the Port and the Navy will share information, evaluate the best available scientific information and modeling related to sea level rise and collaborate to identify complementary adaptation policies and measures.

“The Port and the Navy are responsible for the San Diego Bay coastline – it’s vital that we work together to evaluate and plan for the potential impacts of sea level rise,” said Chairman Rafael Castellanos, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners. “Our partnership ensures that we will continue to be a resilient, strategic port and economic engine well into the future.”

Working with the Navy to prepare for sea level rise also plays a role in safeguarding regional, national and global security and, as one of 17 designated “strategic ports” in the United States, the Port of San Diego stands at the ready to support military deployment activities.

“This MOA is yet another indication of the close and productive relationship between the Port of San Diego and the Navy, a relationship that benefits the entire San Diego region,” said Rear Admiral Yancy Lindsey, Commander Navy Region Southwest. “The potential impacts of sea level rise do not recognize jurisdictional boundaries and demand collaboration among all stakeholders. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Port, local municipalities, and other interested parties on this challenge to ensure the resiliency and viability of our Navy installations, San Diego Bay, and its surrounding communities, now and into the future.”

The agreement also builds on the Port and Navy’s existing partnership for the implementation of the agencies’ baywide Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan, a collaborative strategy for managing the bay’s natural resources.

In parallel, the Port has recently begun conducting its own formal evaluation and assessment of the potential impacts of sea level rise on its public facilities and infrastructure, land uses, diverse ecosystems and more. The first phase is underway and includes a vulnerability assessment of coastal flooding and inundation caused by projected sea level rise and severe storms on San Diego Bay and the surrounding waterfront. This analysis will also help the Port to meet state requirements (AB 691), guidance (Ocean Protection Council and California Coastal Commission) and will contribute to the environmental review process of the comprehensive Port Master Plan Update.

Also at the May 8 Board meeting, Commissioners received an informational presentation from Dr. Mark Merrifield with UC San Diego Scripps Institute of Oceanography’s newly established Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation. The new center will study the consequences of climate change and focus on strategies for adaptation. Dr. Merrifield, the center’s director, shared ideas on how the center can support the Port’s efforts to better understand bay and coastal dynamics in regards to climate change and sea level rise, and enhance coordination amongst stakeholders.

The Port of San Diego serves the people of California as a specially created district, balancing multiple uses on 34 miles along San Diego Bay spanning five cities. Collecting no tax dollars, the Port manages a diverse portfolio to generate revenues that support vital public services and amenities.

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