Link to Prof. Hill’s Planning for Rising Waters Presentation, April 24, 2019

For all those who have been asking for a link to Dr. Kristina Hill’s talk, “Planning for Rising Waters: Sea Level, Groundwater and the Bay Edge” held on April 24th, here it is!

Many, many thanks to Maury Green for recording and editing this presentation and allowing us to share with a larger audience all the insights from Dr. Hill’s talk. Don’t miss the many thoughtful comments and questions from the fully engaged audience towards the end of the video. The presentation slides, courtesy of Dr. Hill,  are available for download here.

And thank you again to our excellent speaker, Prof. Hill, U. C. Berkeley, who was very generous with her time and knowledge, to the City of Palo Alto for its unflagging interest and support, and to all our other sponsors and volunteers for their financial support and personal commitment to making this a well-attended and successful event.

Experts previously believed the West Coast would have a few more years to see the impacts of climate change.  With the recent wildfires and with the west Antarctic ice sheet collapse, they now say there’s a sense of urgency for us to respond to climate change.  That includes sea level rise and the more recently recognized groundwater level rise that occurs as the sea level rises.  Levees do not protect us from groundwater rise; groundwater comes from stormwater and drains to the Bay.  This groundwater flow protects us from saltwater intrusion.  We hope Dr. Hill’s presentation encourages residents, policy makers, developers and other interested parties to take into account groundwater level rise as well as sea level rise when planning  current and future construction.

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Water events in honor of Earth Day

Thank you all who attended Professor Kristina Hill’s presentation on the 24th! She is a terrific speaker; we had over 200 attendees and plenty of questions. For those of you who missed it, the presentation (download here) was videotaped and we will post the link to the video as soon as it’s available.

Main takeaways from this presentation:

  • Palo Alto and other Bay Area cities are very vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise, with significant impacts likely within the next 20 years.
  • Ground water will rise with sea level rise, leading to significant ground water inundation risks well inland from Highway 101.
  • Levees are not effective against groundwater rise.
  • Possible solutions include digging ponds and canals and placing housing on pontoons in these water bodies.

But wait, Earth Week is not over yet! There are two upcoming water events we recommend:

  1. “Thirsty for Justice: The Struggle for the Human Right to Water” Saturday, April 27, 5 – 7 pm, Los Altos Library, Orchard Room, 13 S. San Antonio Rd., Los Altos, CA

2. Former Palo Alto mayor and environmentalist Peter Drekmeier speaking on “Local Water Supply and Conservation” Saturday, May 4th, noon – 3:30, Holbrook Palmer Park , 150 Watkins Ave., Atherton

It’s never too late to celebrate Mother Earth and life-giving water!



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You are invited!

Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater and the City of Palo Alto are pleased to announce that Prof. Kristina Hill, U. C. Berkeley, an expert on urban planning and mitigation for climate change, has agreed to share her knowledge and experience with us on April 24th from 7 to 8:30 pm at the Mitchell Park Community Center El Palo Alto Room. Please join us for her presentation on Planning for Rising Waters: Sea Level, Groundwater and Bay Edge. This event is free, but please register.

For years most coastal and Bay communities have focused their efforts on responding to sea level rise by planning and building sea walls, berms and other protective barriers against the water that will come ashore and threaten properties, shore ecosystems and infrastructure.   However, until recently, many communities have missed an important consequence of sea level rise – the concurrent rise of groundwater.

But, how important is groundwater rise? Modeling studies done for Hawaii and the state of New Hampshire indicate that groundwater rise can double the amount of area that would flood with only sea level rise. Additionally, this flooding could impact areas as far as 2.5 to 3 miles inland. This rise of groundwater can lead to increased risks of foundation instability, pipe infiltration and inflow, salinization of wells, premature road failure, remobilization of soil contaminants, flooding of  basements and underground garages and liquefaction. Levees and sea walls don’t address the problems cause by groundwater rise.

Our speaker, Dr. Hill, has intriguing ideas as to how cities can adapt to sea level and groundwater level rise in a seismic zone. Her lecture should be of interest to city planners, environmentalists, developers, policy makers, property owners, residents and everyone who wonders what we can do to mitigate and adapt to the rising waters now starting to be seen in the Bay Area. What we build today will likely last 30+ years.  We invite everyone to join the conversation and start thinking about how we can address the future now.

Dr. Hill Flier (printable, pdf)


  • The City of Palo Alto
  • Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater
  • The Sierra Club, Loma Prieta Chapter
  • Peninsula Interfaith Climate Action
  • Tuolumne River Trust
  • Palo Alto Neighborhoods (PAN)
  • Fergus Garber Young Architects
  • Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning



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Palo Alto’s 2018 Construction Dewatering Regulations Are Here!

The City of Palo Alto recently released its 2018 Construction Dewatering Regulations for those projects that will need construction dewatering.  The City also provides the following map so that anyone can see the City’s  current dewatering sites (as well as those from 2016 and 2017) by clicking on the image below:

You can also access Palo Alto’s dewatering map directly on the City’s website and on our maps page.

Continue reading

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Celebrating Groundwater Awareness Week, March 11-17

Life as we know it would be impossible without groundwater. It is the world’s most extracted natural resource and it supports our ecosystems.

Don’t take groundwater for granted. Pay it forward during National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 11-17, 2018, by letting others know the importance of groundwater and asking them to pass it along.

According to the National Groundwater Association the United States uses nearly 80 billion gallons of groundwater per day for public supply, private supply, irrigation, livestock, manufacturing, mining, thermal electric power, and other purposes. California alone pumps 10.7 billion gallons of groundwater each day.  About 45% of the United States population depends on groundwater for its drinking water supply.

The United States uses about  53.5 billion gallons of groundwater daily for agricultural irrigation, 67.2% of all the groundwater pumped each day.  In 1990 that number was 2.2 billion.

Groundwater is constantly threatened by overuse, misuse and contamination. We can be part of the solution by making small changes that cumulatively have a big impact:

  • Conserve water inside the home by taking short showers instead of baths and running full load of dishes and laundry.
  • Check for and repair leaky faucets and fixtures, indoors and outdoors.
  • Water outdoors only when necessary, and landscape with native plants that need less water.
  • Track your daily water use with the free 30by30 app to find where you can use less.
  • Always follow label instructions for household chemicals, and look for ways to decrease or cut fertilizer and pesticide usage.
  • Dispose of chemicals properly by taking them to recycling centers for household hazardous waste collection.
  • If you have a well on your property, have the well inspected by a licensed water well contractor once a year.
  • Teach others about ways to protect and preserve groundwater.
  • Advocate for groundwater!

Learn more about how you can get involved at

(Source:  The Groundwater Foundation)

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