San Diego

Government Report Says San Diego Military Bases Are Not Prepared for Climate Change Threats

A recent government report said San Diego’s military bases -- along with nearly two dozen others -- are not prepared for problems caused by climate change.

Naval Base San Diego and Camp Pendleton are among 23 bases highlighted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in a study published last month to better prepare for environmental threats.

These threats include rising sea levels and temperatures, water shortages, and beach erosions.

“To do beach training you must have beaches,” said University of California, San Diego professor Bob Guza, Ph.D.

Guza has worked with the U.S. Navy to study the impact of climate change on bases in San Diego County.

While the study said progress needs to be made, it also applauded Naval Base San Diego for its collaboration with the Port of San Diego and the City of San Diego on climate threats.

“I think there's actually a level of cooperation in San Diego that is actually unusual,” Guza told NBC 7.

One specific project the study praised San Diego for was the design of a new pier.

In 2018, Naval Base San Diego designed a project to replace an existing pier and later altered its design because of expected rising sea levels during the pier’s 75-year lifespan.

“The consideration of rising sea levels was not part of the original project proposal, but when a contractor provided the sea level rise projections, installation officials decided to raise the pier by one foot,” the report said.

U.S. Government Accountability Office

This was the only project from all 23 bases to factor climate projects into account, the study said.

Additionally, the report said Naval Base San Diego included “water and energy shortages, loss of beaches and coastal property, and higher average temperatures” in their latest master plan for the base.

At Camp Pendleton, Marines did consider beach erosion when constructing a new aircraft landing zone.

“They already have serious problems. They can see problems coming at Pendleton and at Base Coronado. They're coming we can see it,” Guza said. “They did not build up as close to the ocean as they could, and they made prudent decisions about where to put stuff and what kind of foundations to use, which is a serious issue.”

Overall, the study said the U.S. Department of Defense needs to do more to assess climate change risks and projections in its master plans for military bases – despite an upfront cost.

All 23 bases are listed below:

  • 611th Civil Engineer Squadron, Alaska
  • Fort Wainwright, Alaska
  • Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska
  • Luke Air Force Base, Arizona
  • Camp Pendleton, California
  • Edwards Air Force Base, California
  • Fort Irwin, California
  • Naval Base San Diego, California
  • Eglin Air Force Base, Florida
  • Naval Air Station Key West, Florida
  • Naval Base Guam, Guam
  • Fort Shafter, Hawaii
  • Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii
  • Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Hawaii
  • Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, Hawaii
  • Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
  • Parris Island, South Carolina
  • Corpus Christi Army Depot, Texas
  • Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia
  • Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia
  • Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia
  • Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Virginia
  • Naval Base Kitsap, Washington
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