Sea Level Rising: Looking towards the future

Global sea levels are rising. It’s not a reality that people like to think about, but the fact is it’s happening as we speak.

According to a report developed by Tetra Tech, Inc. and the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL), recent observations and projections suggest that 3 feet or more of sea level rise could occur earlier than 2100 and even as early as year 2060.

  This Hawaii Sea Level Rise Viewer map depicts projections for future hazard exposure due to rising sea levels in the Ka  ‘anapali, Maui area.

This Hawaii Sea Level Rise Viewer map depicts projections for future hazard exposure due to rising sea levels in the Ka‘anapali, Maui area.

This reality further hit home when Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa recently signed a Proclamation that accepts a Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report that was prepared by the Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission and released in December 2017 as mandated by the State Legislature.

The Proclamation acknowledges that climate change is real and directs “County departments to use the Report in their plans, programs and capital improvement decisions, to mitigate impacts to infrastructure and critical facilities triggered by sea level rise.”  It also calls on the Planning Department to propose rule changes to the Maui, Molokai and Lanai Planning Commissions to include sea level rise in their shoreline setback calculations.

Currently, the Employees’ Retirement System’s (ERS) is working to revitalize portions of their 305-acre Ka‘anapali Golf Courses property in West Maui. While these lands are located outside of the vulnerable sea level rise exposure area, the ERS believe it’s important to have a broader look, both short- and long-term, when it comes to planning for our island’s future.”

“We commend the County for taking sea level rise into account in their planning department’s decisions, including shoreline setbacks,” said project manager Ted Lennon of Lowe Enterprises. “Climate change impacts us all and we look forward to working with the County on planning ahead for future developments or addressing the impact on existing infrastructure. Our hope is we can all come together as a community to address this serious reality.”