Xavier Cortada

“I developed The Underwater to help my neighbors understand our vulnerability to rising seas and give them the tools to take action. Learning together and working together today, we can build a more equitable tomorrow. As our society continues to burn fossil fuels and heat the planet, humans are actively causing sea levels to rise, hurricanes to strengthen, and heat waves to intensify. My house stands at 6.13 feet above sea level. Scientists say that by the time I pay off my 30-year mortgage seas may rise by another 2.5 to 3 feet. Feedback loops in the melting Arctic and our insatiable addiction to fossil fuels make that timeline woefully unpredictable. 

But there are other things homeowners need to worry about even before the water begins to lap at our doorsteps: Exorbitant flood insurance costs, property devaluation, contamination of clean drinking water with saltwater intrusion. A rising water table will make our septic tanks inoperable. A warmer climate will affect agricultural productivity and usher in tropical diseases. Warmer waters will adversely affect marine ecosystems, making us more vulnerable to algal blooms. Rising seas will make our flood-insurance costs skyrocket, tax base vulnerable and property values unpredictable.” – Xavier Cortada

The Underwater HOA was a socially engaged art project created by Xavier Cortada in 2018 and is a precursor to The Underwater. Based in the Village of Pinecrest, the Underwater HOA (or Underwater Homeowners Association) utilized elevation-marked street paintings and yard signs to warn residents about their vulnerability to sea level rise and engage them in problem-solving via monthly “HOA” meetings.