SLR Planning Process

SLR Planning process graphic

The Planning Process

The Sea Level Rise Response planning process will use the following five step process. Stakeholder engagement and community input is ongoing and critical to each step. Following Plan completion, plan implementation and monitoring will occur.

  1. Review Science Complete
  2. Inventory Assets and Operations Complete
  3. Assess Vulnerability Complete
  4. Assess Risk Complete
  5. Draft Adaptation Plan Complete 

Planning Framework

The Planning Framework describes how the sea level rise planning process will occur and under what guiding principles and assumptions. At the completion of the planning process, the document will be reworked to serve as the introduction to the Sea Level Rise Response Plan and the record of the planning process. You can download the Planning Framework at the bottom of this page.

During the June 27, 2017 Community Meeting, attendees were asked to provide input on “project success” and “project outcomes”.  This input, along with sea level rise policy direction from the City’s Comprehensive Plan and Downtown Strategy, was considered during the drafting of the Planning Framework.

Science Review

The Science Review presents a review of climate science data and sea level rise for Olympia. It establishes the scientific basis for evaluating sea level rise impacts. This review of the science is the first step in the sea level rise planning process and provides a basis for conducting the vulnerability and risk assessment and subsequent adaptation strategies. You can download the Science Review at the bottom of this page.

The Science Review discusses the most critical climate stressors for Olympia: sea level rise, coastal flooding, and precipitation. If no adaptation strategies are implemented, these climate stressors are expected to significantly impact Olympia’s Downtown, Port, and LOTT facilities.

The Science Review identifies the National Research Council (NRC) report Sea-Level Rise for the Coasts of California, Oregon and Washington: Past, Present and Future (2012) as the current best available sea level rise science for the region.  A key finding of the Science Review is the identified need to apply local geological adjustments to the NRC sea level rise projections. Estimating subsidence in combination with sea level rise will make the projections locally relevant for Olympia. Observations of vertical land motion in Olympia indicate that Olympia may be experiencing subsidence, or sinking, at rates as high as 3 millimeters per year (mm/yr). This subsidence results from regional tectonics and artificial fill compacting. Subsidence may increase the effects of sea level rise in Olympia. Subsidence could contribute an additional 5 inches of sea level rise by 2030, 8 inches by 2050 and 12 inches by 2100.

Vulnerability & Risk Assessment

The Vulnerability and Risk Assessment evaluates flooding and SLR impacts to key assets and operations. It presents an overview of the adopted SLR scenarios used in the assessment, summarizes the data collection process and asset categories considered in the assessment, presents the vulnerability and risk assessment methodology and findings, and summarizes next steps. You can download the Vulnerability and Risk Assessment at the bottom of this page.

The Vulnerability and Risk Assessment evaluates SLR impacts at 0, 6, 12, 18 and 24-inches of SLR. It also includes a high level evaluation of a high-range end-of-century SLR scenario of 68-inches.  The assessment considers impacts by annual high tides (referred to as “king tides”) and an extreme high tide event with storm surge equivalent to a 100-year water level in Budd Inlet.

A vulnerability assessment is the process of identifying, quantifying and prioritizing (or ranking) the vulnerabilities in a system. A risk assessment is the determination of quantitative or qualitative estimate of risk related to a well-defined situation and a recognized threat. Vulnerability refers to the inability (of a system or unit) to withstand the effects of a hostile environment. A risk is the potential for loss damage or destruction of an asset as a result of a threat exploiting a vulnerability. Risk is the intersection of assets, threats, and vulnerabilities.

Adaptation Plan

Since completing the Vulnerability and Risk Assessment, the project team has focused its efforts on linking Downtown flooding vulnerabilities with the potential adaptation strategies that could be used to protect Downtown. To learn more, review the Draft Sea Level Rise Response Plan on our Sea Level Rise page.

Document Downloads


Contact Susan Clark, Senior Planner, at 360.753.8321 or


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