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Study details threat of water from below in combatting sea rise

Tiburon Peninsula communities are familiar with the risks of sea-level rise, and local governments are working to address the dangers of rising seas overtopping seawalls and flooding streets and homes.

But a recently released study suggests peninsula towns may face another sea-level flood risk: water bubbling up from below.

The study, “Shallow Groundwater Response to Sea Level Rise,” released by scientists from San Francisco-based environmental consulting firm the Pathways Climate Institute and the San Francisco Estuary Institute, suggests sea-level rise in areas with shallow groundwater poses a significant risk to low lying communities like Belvedere, Tiburon and Strawberry.

Tiburon Town Manager Greg Chanis called the study “frightening.”

“We have been focused on the potential effects of storm surge and storm water,” he said. “We’ve paid little attention to the effects of slowly rising groundwater tables. Our Town Council is wanting to wrestle with sea-level rise. Obviously, this is one of the factors we have to look at.”

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