The League of Women Voters Benicia (LWV Benicia) works to keep local residents informed about current “hot topics” that are of importance to our community. On April 21, the eve of Earth Day, the LWV Benicia will be hosting a forum on the issue—Keeping Our Heads Above Water: Dealing with the Effects of Climate Change.  

While much of Benicia’s charm comes from its waterfront location, the shoreline is also cause for concern because of the predicted effects of climate change.  The lower parts of Benicia will likely be affected by the anticipated rise in sea level over the next decade.

Benicia not only has to contend with rising tides, but also has to manage effects of continuing drought.  The unavailability of safe, affordable drinking water is a problem for the City, which is trying to keep it’s head above water economically, while providing water to its residents and businesses.  

All around the Bay Area and beyond, cities and counties are seeking answers and planning ways to manage the potential effects of flooding and drought at the same time. There are multiple groups of scientists and planners working to examine the situation and create protections for local communities. There will be a ballot measure (AA) for the June election, which would in part help fund flood control around the Bay and Delta.

The LWV Benicia has invited three experts to discuss these important issues and answer major questions about the local effects of climate change. Jerry Potter will be explaining the expected effects of climate change in the next decade and beyond. A longtime local resident and member of the League, Potter is a climate scientist with 30 years of experience at Lawrence Livermore Lab who currently works with NASA using models to predict the future of climate change.  “Climate change is more complicated than just sea level rise. The thing that concerns many people is the effect on the precipitation (rain and snow), especially in California. Snow levels and water shortage are more immediate concerns, with the drought being exacerbated by global warming. Sea level rise is a longer term effect,” Potter explains.

With the extraordinarily high “king tides” that occurred in December and January, low lying areas in the Bay Area got a hint of what sea level rise can be like. “Many of our salt marshes will be drowning,” said scientist Jeremy Lowe in the LWV Bay Area Monitor. “When they’re under water too long, the plants will start dying off and then we’ll have mudflats which aren’t as effective as holding off flooding.” At the forum, Lowe will be explaining recent trends and projects involving flood management and wetland restoration around the bay. Lowe is also a Benicia resident, and a senior scientist with the San Francisco Estuary Institute with over 30 years experience worldwide.
Alex Porteshawver has been Benicia’s Climate Action Plan Coordinator since 2012, and she will be sharing the details of Benicia’s own Climate Action Plan. Porteshawver is a Senior Sustainability Planner at Michael Baker International with expertise in local climate planning, energy financing, sustainable infrastructure and energy management development.

The public is invited to attend this free event at the Benicia Community Center, 401 East L Street from, 6:30-8:30 pm.

The League of Women Voters Benicia, known for keeping residents informed about issues in our community, registers voters, keeps voters informed and gets out the vote.  Members are often seen working at the Farmer’s Market, registering people to vote, and this spring various members will be registering students at the local high schools.

Currently the 10-year old League is the only one in Solano County, and boasts over 35 members from Vallejo, Fairfield, American Canyon, and Benicia. The group is led by an Executive Committee and Board that includes Nile Meddars, Judy Potter, Malin Coleridge, Susan Neuhaus, Alice LaBay and Sharron Tucker.

One of the LWV’s best-known local events is the annual Meet Your Local Officials Night where people can meet and have casual conversations with elected officials at the City and County levels. Other events of the year have included forums on women’s health and suicide prevention, water issues, hazardous materials transportation and money in politics. The LWV Benicia anticipates being very active in the next few months, providing information and getting citizens to the polls. In June, they will be hosting their Annual Gigantic Garage Sale at the Benicia Clock Tower on June 27. If you are interested in joining the League or want more information, check it out at

Gayle Vaughan is a long time resident of Benicia, former teacher at Benicia Unified School District and a current tidal marsh docent for Solano Land Trust at Rush Ranch.