Get Ready, Here Comes the Ocean!
Sandyland/Sand Point (Photo: Branden Aroyan/Heal the Ocean)
Source: Heal the Ocean (HTO)
Sea Level Rise, directly caused by climate change, is a real deal, and the King Tides of December 22-23, 2018 & January 20-21, 2019 gave us a hint of what the future looks like for Santa Barbara if we do nothing but talk about it.
A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words. HTO contracted with photographer/pilot Harry Rabin and well-known surf photographer Branden Aroyan to photograph Sandyland/Sand Point (Carpinteria coast area), Miramar Beach, Goleta Beach, and the Santa Barbara Airport.
The photos speak for themselves. All these areas are at risk of flooding - even now, in a high tide/storm event. Years ago, as climate change symposiums and plans and analyses began to proliferate, HTO made strong input about Adaptation to Sea Level Rise. Years ago, we recognized how much of our infrastructure is in flood zones and smack in the path of an incoming ocean. We maintained then, and emphasize now, that we must act. A building permitted today should last longer than 30-50 years. All the money spent on expanding the Airport might have been better spent building a monorail to the Santa Maria airport - because the Airport is already flooding, and may be totally underwater in too few years.
Knowing that the seas are coming in and that groundwater will rise with it, HTO has been emphasizing a list of what a responsible community should start doing to prepare:
- Waterproof, raise, or relocate vulnerable wastewater treatment plants, which will otherwise flood;
- Disallow building in flood zones (including airports);
- Clean up toxic pollution in groundwater, which is expected to rise along with sea levels;
- Halt septic system installation in flood zones (and remove those that are already in high groundwater!);
- Changing permitting requirement in the coastal zone (require setbacks, pilings, etc.)
Heal the Ocean is campaigning for these, and other preventative measures, to prepare for things to come.
Heal the Ocean focuses on wastewater infrastructure – sewers and septic systems – as well as ocean dumping practices that have contributed to ocean pollution. We are focused on Santa Barbara County, but our methods are now serving as a model for other coastal communities across the country.