Attendees at the Dining with Progressives meeting Sept. 22 heard Sarah Cooksey, administrator of Delaware Coastal Programs, and Chris Bason, executive director for the Center for Inland Bays, discuss the impact sea level rise will have throughout Delaware.
Cooksey discussed what actions Delawareans can do to slow down sea level rise by reducing their carbon footprint and what steps residents should take to adapt to the sea level rise that is coming. One suggestion that had a strong positive reaction among the audience was the reduction of the mowable area in residents’ lawns.
Bason discussed the importance of wetlands, of living shorelines and of citizen action. He told the audience of the need to pass state legislation or county regulations to protect Delaware’s nontidal wetlands and the need for DNREC to update tidal wetland maps.
Bason stressed the importance of convincing members of the community that “sea level rise is real.”
Both speakers referenced the May 2012 report, “Preparing for Tomorrow’s High Tide: Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment for the State of Delaware” prepared by DNREC’s Delaware Coastal Programs with advice and guidance from the Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee. This report describes the impacts sea level rise will have on 79 resources in the state, 16 of which were designated of high concern.
The report stated that 99 percent of the state’s existing tidal wetlands, up to a quarter of the state’s heavy industrial areas, and more than 3,000 septic systems are at risk of inundation - and many of the septic systems could fail sooner due to increasing water tables.
In May 2013, the committee’s work was completed with the approval of the document titled “Preparing Delaware for Sea Level Rise,” which contains about 50 recommendations that target the 16 high concern resources. Both reports can be found at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/coastal/Pages/DESLRAdvisoryCommittee.aspx.