Balance Hydrologics was part of a multi-disciplinary team brought on by the City of Benicia to develop the Benicia Urban Waterfront Restoration Plan (Plan). This Plan was partly funded by a Coastal Conservancy grant and allowed the City of Benicia to plan for an enhanced and restored downtown waterfront that can realize its potential to serve as a true heart for a vibrant waterfront community. Balance was brought onto the team for their expertise in hydrology, sea level rise, stormwater and urban runoff water quality, flood analysis, and wetland development. Balance staff built upon previous work completed for the City including hydrologic and geomorphic studies to support efforts to increase tidal influences, promote the development of a natural tidal channel morphology, and limit sedimentation problems.
Sea level rise studies indicated the Waterfront area will be inundated under expected sea level rise conditions as early as 2030. This issue was a key planning concern for the Master Plan, Balance identified strategies for preservation and migration of existing wetlands, addressing increased elevations or dikes, levees, or floodwalls in areas to be developed, and public interpretation elements related to sea level rise issues. The strategies to address sea level rise were both realistic and visionary. If appropriately designed, these types of climate adaptation measures can have significant collateral benefits including enhanced resiliency for existing wetland environments and remedial improvements in the quality of stormwater runoff originating in upslope areas of the City.