Delaware to study climate change impact on the Inland Bays

A boat passes Beach Cove in Delaware's Inland Bays near Bethany Beach. (John Mussoni/WHYY)

A boat passes Beach Cove in Delaware's Inland Bays near Bethany Beach. (John Mussoni/WHYY)

As the lowest lying state in the nation, Delaware faces some of the most harmful flooding caused by climate change — public safety, properties and the beach economy are at risk.

The state will partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study the best ways to prepare the Inland Bays —  three interconnected bodies of water separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a narrow strip of land — as well as the Delaware Bay coastline.

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The upcoming study is a cost sharing agreement between the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District.

“A lot of focus has been put on the Atlantic ocean side, and rightfully so, from storms that are becoming more frequent and more intense, and a byproduct generally of overall climate change — but not as much attention has been paid to the Inland Bays,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin.

Garvin said the Inland Bays already suffer from “sunny day flooding,” which is when high tides cause flooding even without rain.

The state will study various mitigation methods for rising seas, such as creating seawalls from natural materials, and how to pay for those projects.

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