Climate Report: D.C. Faces Serious Flood Threat Within 100 Years

A layer of water could cover the heart of tourism D.C. within 100 years, according to environmental nonprofit Climate Central.

A new report finds D.C. could face 8 feet of flooding because of climate change and rising sea levels. Climate Central released maps showing the Tidal Basin and monument area of the National Mall at 1 foot, 5 feet and 8 feet of flooding.

“This would all be flooded, one big reflecting pool,” tour guide Joanne Popkin said.

Government, military and commercial spaces also would flood in a serious flood of the Potomac River.

On the mall at 17th Street, the Army Corps of Engineers is nearing completion of a 10-foot levee to keep water away from the White House. It will be turned over to the National Park Service upon completion.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said the nation's capital risks disaster unless more is done.

“We’re developing our waterfront for the first time in our history,” she said. “It’s not going to be there if we don’t find a way to respond to climate change locally even if the Congress does not do what it’s supposed to do nationally.”

In Silver Spring, Maryland, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, scientists like Steve Gill keep watch. They note the mall area was built on low land with hauled in dirt.

“So they’re naturally low-lying areas to begin with that were historical flood plains to begin with,” Gill said.

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