By Alex Lunine, Resilient Communities Program Manager

Nov 11, 2022

Panelists John Durand of UC Davis, Mayor Pro Tem Alma Hernandez, Emily Corwin of the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District and Jaclyn Mandoske of Bay Conservation and Development Commission speak during the forum roundtable

Suisun City is vulnerable to increased flooding risks from sea level rise, king tides and storm surges that will threaten homes, businesses and jobs in the coming decades. The Suisun City Climate Resilience Community Forum brought together local environmental experts, city officials and city residents and community leaders to explore those risks, while informing a discussion around community-supported actions and solutions.

The Forum built upon the work of the city’s core team, which organized a Community Resilience Building workshop in June that led to a report by The Nature Conservancy.

Bringing together around 15 residents and a panel that included Mayor Pro Tem Alma Hernandez, Jaclyn Mandoske of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, Emily Corwin of the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District, and John Durand from UC Davis, the Forum sought to engage community members on the topic to collectively work towards preventing and adapting to the threat of rising tides in Suisun.

The day started with an introduction by Alma Hernandez, followed by presentations on flooding issues and the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District’s ongoing and planned flood-related projects.

If you have been keeping up with our outreach efforts, you might already be familiar with the flooding projections published by the BCDC in 2020: an increase of 6 to 10 inches in water level by 2030, 13 to 23 inches by 2050, and upwards of 41 to 83 inches by 2100. This timeline is indicative of flooding due to sea level rise only, and does not include the additional threats that storm surges or king tides present to the city. When determining flood mitigation efforts, all three factors of flooding have to be considered in conjunction with one another. A mix of three primary strategies can be implemented by the city to curb the impacts of flooding: protect, adapt, and retreat. Protection infrastructure, such as levees, seeks to prevent flooding from occurring. Meanwhile, adaptation measures, such as adjusting building codes to prevent water damage, attempt to mitigate the harm that flooding can inflict. Finally, retreat cedes that flooding and damage cannot be prevented in a given area, so preexisting or planned development should be abandoned.

To illustrate how flood mitigation strategies can look in action, Emily Corwin presented on three projects within the radar of the sewer district:

  • The district is planning to establish community treatment wetlands on-site at the district. These wetlands will reduce the amount of excess nutrients being carried out into the Bay, while also helping to bolster the flood resilience of the district and surrounding properties. Additionally, these wetlands are planned to serve as a public educational resource about the Suisun Marsh and host walking trails.
  • The next project was the renovation of the Kellogg Pump Station. This pump station, directly behind residences on Maple Street, was damaged by fire in 2020, and improvements to the station are planned to both bolster fire and flooding resilience and provide a walkable path along its creek.
  • The last project pertained to improving the capacity of the stormwater systems to move water out of Suisun neighborhoods. This, in part, includes replacing older piping.

The district wants to incorporate community feedback into its projects and what should be prioritized in their efforts.

The group adjourned for lunch and came back together for the community forum. The panel was able to answer questions from participants, including clarification from the presentations, what organizations and stakeholders the city could partner with to tackle flooding vulnerabilities, how flooding would impact the Suisun Marsh and examples of how flood-mitigation measures have looked in nearby communities.

Even if you could not attend on Oct. 22, you can still make your voice heard by watching the video recording of the event and filling out our survey.

Participants also gave crucial commentary on how Sustainable Solano can improve our outreach efforts. This includes having greater representation from government leaders at future roundtables to enhance the ability of community members to communicate their needs to the city, and reaching beyond coalition-building with the adult population to offer more ways for students to get involved.

This forum would not be possible without the huge contributions of time and effort from the Core Team: Alma Hernandez, Anthony Adams, Aleta George, Jay Gunkelmann, and Mike Zeiss. Additionally, I would like to thank Jaclyn Mandoske, Emily Corwin, and John Durand for lending us their expertise on the panel and for taking the time to join us for these important conversations.

I would also like to thank our high school interns for helping film during this event, even after their internships ended, and for all their hard work over the course of the summer.

If you are interested in learning more about flood risks or want to get more involved, we are partnering with Adopt a Neighborhood to host another Flood Walk from 10 am-12 pm Saturday, Nov. 19. Additionally, from 10 am to 4 pm on Dec. 3 and Dec. 10, we are installing a flood- and drought-resistant garden at a Suisun City home that was previously affected by fire. During the workshop, you can learn how to address similar hazards at your own home.