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Balboa Island walls to be raised to hold back rising ocean

August 14, 2012 | 11:49 am

Balboa island

To guard against rising sea levels, Newport Beach city officials are expected to award a $1.3-million contract Tuesday that would start the design of new seawalls that would be built around Balboa and Little Balboa islands.

Replacing the aging concrete barriers is increasingly necessary, city leaders say, as high tides and storm surges already lap over the walls and threaten the low-lying homes on the islands in Newport Harbor.

A 2011 study found that waters around Balboa Island could rise as much as 4 feet by the end of the century, as the sea warms and expands due to climate change.

While the total cost to replace the islands' seawalls is expected to be almost $68 million, the first step is considered significant.

The contractor, URS Corp. of Long Beach, would prepare concept drawings, environmental documents, permit applications and construction documents.

Last year's city-commissioned study recommended that the islands raise their seawalls from 9 feet to 10 feet above the average sea level, and be designed to accommodate a 4-foot extension if tide levels continue to rise as projected.

Balboa Island is 4 to 8 feet above sea level.

To guard the homes and businesses, the city plans to also modify the boardwalk, street ends and drainage structures.


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Photo: Ocean water laps over the walls around Balboa Island during a 2010 storm. Credit: Newport Beach General Services