Officials tout Port of San Diego-Navy sea rise agreement

SAN DIEGO – Officials Monday touted a “first-of-its-kind” agreement between the Port of San Diego and U.S. Navy involving collaborative sea level rise monitoring and planning.

“The port and the Navy are responsible for the San Diego Bay coastline — it’s vital that we work together to evaluate and plan for the potential impacts of sea level rise,” said Rafael Castellanos, chairman of the Port of San Diego. “Our partnership ensures that we will continue to be a resilient, strategic port and economic engine well into the future.”

Under a memorandum of understanding authorized at the Board of Port Commissioners meeting last week, the port and Navy will share information as well as evaluate science and modeling related to sea level rise. They will also collaborate on potential adaptation policies and measures.

As one of 17 “strategic ports,” the Port of San Diego is necessarily tied to military deployment activities. Sea level rise also has regional, national and global security implications, according to the port.

The agreement builds on the Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan: a 2002 port-Navy joint initiative mean to address San Diego Bay environmental issues. The plan, updated in 2013, details scenarios related to shoreline infrastructure, flooding, beach erosion and wetland habitat loss. It also includes sustainability practices.

The recent agreement supplements the plan with separate provisions related to studying, planning and preparing for sea level rise.

“The potential impacts of sea level rise do not recognize jurisdictional boundaries and demand collaboration among all stakeholders,” said Rear Adm. Yancy Lindsey, commander of Navy Region Southwest. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the port, local municipalities and other interested parties on this challenge to ensure the resiliency and viability of our Navy installations, San Diego Bay and its surrounding communities, now and into the future.”

The port recently began its own formal evaluation of potential sea level rise impact on public facilities, ecosystems and land uses. The first phase includes a vulnerability assessment of coastal flooding caused by sea level rise and severe storms.