OLYMPIA (VIDEO) — City, port and clean water alliance leaders heard — and some praised — a consultant firm’s recommendations on how to adapt to rising sea levels that threaten downtown Olympia.
The recommendations include building barriers, floodgates, sand-bagging and requiring new structures to be elevated.
Justin Vandever, with consultant firm AECOM Technical Services, admits that adapting to rising sea levels in Olympia may be costly, but he says no one government entity would bear all future expenses.
“Time and time again through these assessments it’s been shown that the cost of doing nothing is far greater than of adapting,” Vandever said. “… We don’t have to build the long-term strategies today. And so these costs will be financed and funded over many decades to come. And so they’ll be spread out and also shared over the project partners and the community.”
The study agencies have accepted public comments over the past two years and the Olympia City Council is expected to discuss the matter further and get additional public response.
City of Olympia, Port of Olympia and LOTT Clean Water Alliance leaders attended the meeting
Wednesday at the port’s Percival Plaza offices near the downtown waterfront.
Olympia Mayor Pro Tem Nathaniel Jones praises the information in the report but expressed his concerns.
“In the early introduction it talks about these other uncertainties,” Jones said. “It talks about up to a 30 percent increase in rainfall intensity and frequency, and then these weird things called atmospheric rivers, and God knows where they come from, but they hit you all at once. So I guess that the point I am making it that while we’re doing our best to quantify the vulnerability and develop a response … it feels overwhelming frankly, particularly because of the uncertainty associated with it.”
New Port of Olympia Executive Director Sam Gibboney was also upbeat about the sea level rise response research she’s seen so far.
“I wanted to congratulate you for the work well done and look forward to learn more of the details about it and then what are the next steps that we take,” Gibboney said.