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It’s widely acknowledged that climate change is putting humanity’s future in some deep doo-doo, but now it’s getting literal. Grist.org reports that rising sea levels and massive storms associated with the changing weather patterns being brought on by climate change will most likely extract sewage and toxic waste from sewers and industrial areas in some American cities, bringing a toxic concoction right to your doorstep — if you live in a low-lying area.
According to a report by New America Media, rising sea levels threaten the sewer system in Oakland, California, which sits on the shore of San Francisco Bay and has a large area of residential housing sitting on the Flatlands just above sea level and only a mile from the waterfront. While residents think they’re safe, a local conservation and development group says the low lying areas in Oakland will be some of the first to get flooded as sea levels rise. “Some of the first flooding likely to occur will be in the low lying areas of Oakland, where the poor people happen to live,” lead senior planner of the Adapting to Rising Tides project of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, Lindy Lowe told New America Media.
And it’s now clear that sea level rise is going to happen, as a new analysis of sea level rise by Climate Central shows sea level could go up by as much as eight inches by 2030 and 19 inches by 2050. And that’s just tip of the iceberg, as melting glaciers in the Arctic and Antarctic may have become irreversible, leading to even larger increases in sea levels down the road. New America Media reports that sea levels that are 19 inches higher than they are now would overrun Oakland International Airport, as well as waterfront infrastructure like railway lines, roads and – some facilities at the large wastewater treatment plant in West Oakland.
While East Oakland has a pump system to deal with this kind of situation, the predictions show a time will come when it’s overwhelmed by water levels that are too high. The city’s current sewer system is being overhauled under a broad public works program known as Measure B, and a massive $40 million plan to add 42 miles of new piping, while upgrading about 290 miles of current sewer piping is currently in funding stages.
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