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RISING SEA LEVEL WORRIES OLYMPIA OFFICIALS

“Washington’s low-lying capital city is a bit nervous in planning a new $38 million City Hall near the shoreline of Puget Sound, fearing that global warming and rising waters could submerge much of the downtown in this century.

Climate change experts say one of the most profound and visible effects of global warming will be felt along the thousands of miles of shoreline along the Pacific Coast and the Sound, where even a rise of a few feet can submerge vast acres of prime farm, forest, businesses and residential land, sending folks heading for higher ground and new ways of coping….

The issue was brought into stark relief by the council’s recent debate over whether to build the new city hall on prime Port of Olympia land – or head for the hills. The city decided to build in harm’s way, raising the project two feet above current flood level, but conceding that water may lap at the doorstep before the end of the century.

The vote to brave the tides was a considered a symbolic gesture, too. The unacceptable alternative, says Mayor Mark Foutch, is to essentially abandon the downtown core, which includes the community center, farmers’ market, regional sewage treatment plant, child-care center, and an entire business and housing district.

The Capitol Campus is uphill, safely on a high plateau, but the city’s drinking water supply at nearby McAllister Springs is in danger of being contaminated by salt water, so new wells are planned.

‘We’ve got some real vulnerability here,’ says Rich Hoey, the city’s director of water resources and an adviser to the governor’s climate change panel,” quoting the AP.

Posted by Steve on September 7, 2007 at 6:54 am | Permalink

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  1. I just read that melting of the Greenland ice cap, which has been reduced by 30 percent, would raise sea level by 20 feet. I found on an old elevation map that Thurston Hilands and Yelm are 370′ to 480′ in elevation. This map refers to this areaas the “Uplands”.

    Comment by gail cane on September 12, 2007 at 12:25 pm

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