Delaware issues adaption plan for sea level rise

 (AP Photo/Randall Chase)

(AP Photo/Randall Chase)

The state’s low terrain makes Delaware especially vulnerable to changes in sea level.  The new report will help guide state decisions for responding to sea level rise.

Since November 2010, members of the Delaware Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee have met to figure out the best methods for preparing the state for sea level rise. The latest report lists a number of solutions to meet seven objectives. Those objectives include improving communication on all levels of government, increase flexibility in regulations, and increase public awareness of the threat of sea level rise.

“Delaware’s long term competitiveness will be shaped in many ways by our response to climate change,” said Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara. “This report provides a solid foundation to address threats from sea level rise.” O’Mara says preparing for the impacts of climate change will also make the state more resilient to coastal storms.

“Whether it’s trying to do additional beach restoration projects, or trying to restore wetlands, which provide incredible value to protect communities, to having better drainage projects, or other types of resiliency measures, these are all things that will help today, tomorrow and into the future,” O’Mara said.

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Last year, the committee published a report that highlights the threat posed to various infrastructure in the state based on projections for sea level rise. According to the report, if the sea level rises 0.5 meters, the following will be inundated:

Nine miles of railroad lines
116 miles of roads and bridges
485 septic systems
2,051 domestic water wells
Seven acres of landfills
12.6 miles of evacuation routes
78 acres of property at the Port of Wilmington.

And it’s not just something that people who live at the Delaware beaches need to be paying attention to, O’Mara says it’s a statewide issue.  “Everyone in Delaware is effectively a coastal resident.  The furthest away anybody is, is about a dozen miles, so we’re all affected.”

In September, Governor Jack Markell issued Executive Order 41, which requires state agencies to plan for sea level rise when making decisions about buildings and infrastructure.  “State government can’t do it alone,” said O’Mara.  “I encourage everyone to review the report and the recommendations of the Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee and to take action today.”

You can access the complete report on DNREC’s website.  You can also find the shorter executive summary there as well.  The state has also posted an interactive inundation map, where you can plug in your address and see what your neighborhood might look like if the sea level rose by 0.5, 1.0, or 1.5 meters.

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