Council Sounds Alarm Bell for Regional Action on Extreme Storms

An atmospheric river battering the Bay Area and Northern California should serve as a powerful reminder of the mounting risks and costs the region faces as a changing climate produces more frequent and more intense storms. The Bay Area Council is sounding the alarm bell for regional action to secure $200 million in state support to match $500 million that Bay Area voters resoundingly approved in 2016 to fund a range of shoreline resilience projects around the Bay.

“The cost of inaction will be extremely high,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Extreme storms are the new normal and we need a new normal in how we prepare and respond to this real threat. We’ve invested untold billions to shore up our communities and critical infrastructure against earthquakes and we similarly need to invest to protect our cities, our neighborhoods and our economy against extreme storms.”

A 2015 study by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute—Surviving the Storm—put the potential cost of an extreme storm at more than $10 billion or about the same toll as the Loma Prieta earthquake.

The Bay Area Council has been a strong advocate for building the region’s resilience to extreme storms and rising seas using a range of manmade and environmental approaches. The Council helped lead the successful regional Measure AA in 2016, passed by 70 percent of voters, that is providing initial funding for a variety of new levee and wetland expansion projects to improve coastal resilience to major storm events. But the full list of projects included in Measure AA require matching state funding.

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