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Walnut Creek, Calif. — HASSELL+, a multidisciplinary resilience team that includes Brown and Caldwell, presented its Resilient by Design|Bay Area Challenge proposal for the Colma Creek Watershed in San Mateo County, South San Francisco, at the Resilient Bay Summit.

The Resilient by Design|Bay Area Challenge is a year-long collaborative research and design project that develops 10 innovative community-based solutions by architects, designers, engineers, urban planners, and other local and international experts to strengthen the Bay Area’s resilience to sea level rise, severe storms, flooding, and earthquakes. The 10 sites signify a collection of some of the most ecologically fragile areas in the region susceptible to dramatic change in coming decades as climate change settles in. The challenge is modeled on New York’s Rebuild by Design, a multi-stage planning and design competition pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, promoting preparedness and resilience for communities affected by climate change.

HASSELL+ is one of 10 teams selected to take part in the challenge. The team is led by HASSELL and includes Brown and Caldwell, Civic Edge Consulting, Deltares, Goudappel, Hatch, Idyllist, Lotus Water, and Page & Turnbull.

More exposed than any other county in the Bay Area, San Mateo County’s shoreline could experience up to 55 inches of sea level rise by 2100 per climatic estimations. At just 36 inches, roughly 10 percent of San Mateo County’s population will be directly affected by sea level rise.

After months of research and exploration, learning from Bay Area communities, and collaborating with design experts, the HASSELL+ team joined with South San Francisco and San Mateo County to present plans for connecting residents to their watershed while reducing flood risks and protecting the shoreline from sea level rise.

The team’s proposal is a water-centered program to reduce climate risk and ensure the proposed plans and projects reflect community needs, creating a network of lush green public places and reconnection with the Bay.

Initiatives within the team’s strategy include:

  • Recharging reservoirs to direct stormwater to the aquifer;
  • A watershed-wide stormwater collection, reuse, and management network of connected green spaces, schools and traffic-calmed green streets;
  • Constructed wetlands and a living levee to naturally treat sewage and protect the shore from sea level rise;
  • New Colma Creek Parkway for cycling, pedestrians and flood management;
  • Enhanced recreational opportunities including cycling connections between San Bruno Mountain in the upper watershed to the Bay as well as swimming and recreation.

Following the presentations, communities will work together with regional, state, and federal agencies to fully implement their plans which include funding and implementation strategies.

“Through our continuing collaboration with the community, the HASSELL+ team has in-depth knowledge of the challenges and opportunities the county faces,” said Rosey Jencks, vice president and Northern California One Water leader for Brown and Caldwell. “Together, the team can outline climate risk reduction measures to improve South San Francisco’s resiliency while creating a network of multi-purpose infrastructure that reduces flood risk, improves water quality, and offers enhanced recreational space and ecological habitats.”

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