Sea Level Rise Adaptation and Mitigation Planning in Charleston, South Carolina
Halpin, Dr. Patrick
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As sea level rise continues to occur on a global scale, coastal cities need to be evaluating the risk and potential impacts it will have on their communities and developing adaptation and mitigation strategies to effectively handle these changes. With projections anticipating a sea level rise as high as four feet within the next 100 years, Charleston needs to be considering strategies to preserve and protect its coastlines, historical and cultural assets, natural resources, and its infrastructure. Currently, the City has taken little initiative to proactively plan and adapt for the impending effects of sea level rise. Although the Charleston Green Plan demonstrates an interest in the resiliency and sustainability of the City, it is not a sufficient or comprehensive response to sea level rise. As such, we recommend that Charleston seek regional support through the creation of a regional climate compact between the five coastal counties in South Carolina. By collaborating in a regional compact, more resources, staff, and funding will be available to work on strategic planning than would otherwise be available at the local level. Additionally, regional collaboration will demonstrate to the State that sea level rise is an important issue to these coastal counties and support at the state level is needed. Secondly, more initiative and political will is needed at the local level to promote more sustainable practices and encourage collaboration between local scientists, residents, policy makers, business owners, etc. in order to create a plan of action for sea level rise. Ideally, the City would hire a dedicated staff member to serve as the primary contact for planning, as well as, lead community engagement, education, and outreach programs. However, if that is not an option, local government should provide platforms (conferences, meetings, educational opportunities, etc.) for the community to begin discussing the ways in which they would like to see the city take action against sea level rise. Thirdly, while beachfront development may be profitable for the region, it further erodes the beach and is at high risk of being destroyed in light of sea level rise. As such, Charleston should revise the Beachfront Management Act of 1988 to no longer allow DHEC to move the baseline seaward, regardless of accretion processes. Although Charleston’s sea level rise adaptation and mitigation strategy may still be unclear, with sea level rise predictions as high as 4 feet within the next 100 years, it is clear action is needed to preserve and protect the city for generations to come.
CitationPrettyman, Julieann (2015). Sea Level Rise Adaptation and Mitigation Planning in Charleston, South Carolina. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10161/9690.
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Rights for Collection: Nicholas School of the Environment