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actions & protests | environment

Olympia’s Highest Tide: Sea-Level Rise Will Impact Downtown

While the mainstream media debates whether climate change exists, some people in Olympia gathered at 8 am this rainy morning to observe the highest tide at Percival Landing. Colorful umbrellas and windsocks brightened the scene and the band lifted the spirits, providing a sense of optimism that the community could find solutions to a looming crisis.
It was visibly clear that if the highest tide occurred during a 10-inch rain month or rapid snow melt, Percival Landing and the nearby stores would be under water and the Westside of Olympia would be cut off from the downtown area. The highest tide alone was enough to bring Budd Bay just inches below the Oyster House's parking lot.

The looming questions are: what will Olympia look like with even a 12-inch sea rise (the low-end of prediction) or a 4-feet (the high-end prediction) by the end of this century?; and 2) what can be done to prevent or mitigate sea rise?

Today's event, organized by Olympia Climate Action, made it clear that Olympia is in trouble. While prevention efforts to reduce the causes of climate change will help, it is not clear that downtown Olympia will be able to stay dry even if the lowest levels of sea rise occurs. Other harbor towns along the South Puget Sound are also likely to be affected by even a modest rise in sea level.

Several city, county and state officials joined the concerned citizens and promised to work to find solutions. A community meeting will be held on Monday January 11th, 7-pm at the Olympia Center (222 Columbia St NW): Sea Level Rise: What Can We Expect. City employees—Andy Haub and Keith Staley will speak. It will be an opportunity for citizens to discuss changes needed in Olympia's Comprehensive Plan to deal with the impact of climate change.