The South Bay is poised to become more resilient to rising sea levels, thanks to an unexpected decision from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fully fund the $177 million South Bay Shoreline Project—a massive effort to build four miles of new levees and restore 3,000 acres of wetlands near San Jose. A report by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute found the South Bay is more economically vulnerable to catastrophic flood damage than any other portion of the Bay Area and could suffer over $6 billion in damages during an extreme storm event. The project has been in the works since at least 2005, following Senator Dianne Feinstein’s work to facilitate the historic acquisition of the South Bay Salt Ponds from Cargill, and the Bay Area Council has been strongly advocating for federal support of the project ever since.
The South Bay shoreline project was one of the very first projects to receive local support from the Bay Area Council co-sponsored Measure AA, the $12 parcel tax measure approved by voters in 2016 to fund multi-benefit wetland restoration and flood protection projects. With funding in place, construction is slated to begin next summer, and the new levee is expected to be completed in 3-5 years. Enormous thanks are due to the hard work of the Bay Area Council partners who helped make this announcement a reality, including Senator Feinstein, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and Save the Bay. To learn more about the Bay Area Council’s work on climate resilience, please contact Vice President of Public Policy Adrian Covert.