DNREC holds stakeholder workshops on climate adaptation strategies
State agencies hosted a number of climate adaptation workshops for stakeholders at Del Tech’s Terry campus on April 27.
The event focused on the recommendations put forth by the Climate Framework for Delaware that Governor Markell announced in early March. Topics covered included as improving energy efficiency in schools and the effects of climate change on agriculture.
One workshop discussed ways to better support local communities that have been affected by changes, such as sea level rise and coastal erosion.
While many First State municipalities are making efforts, especially those in FEMA-designated flood zones, local governments are generally limited in the resources they have to meet these environmental challenges.
David Carter, chair of conservation at the Delaware Audubon Society, believes that the state can do a lot to improve climate adaptation strategies on the local level.
“There’s going to be a real tension between what we do to protect communities and protect the habitats and the way we’re going about it needs to be a little different than what we’re doing now," said Carter.
Carter emphasized the need to better engage with local communities in order to come up with innovative, long-term solutions. Meanwhile, he’s skeptical about the effectiveness of big, government-funded projects, such as the recent beach replenishment efforts in Broadkill Beach.
Lew Killman, the vice mayor and a resident of Bethany Beach for 25 years, attended the same workshop in hopes of learning what other municipalities were doing to manage the impacts of sea level rise on their residents.
“There was a time when, at various times during high tide, there wasn’t a beach," said Killman. "[Water] was right up to the boardwalk. People were literally lined up at the boardwalk until the tide went out.”
But since then, the beaches in Bethany have improved. That’s because the state government and the Army Corps of Engineers have stepped in to replenish the beaches. Still, shoreline communities like Bethany Beach are well aware of the very real consequences of the changing climate and rising sea levels on the quality of life.
Bethany Beach officials recently started a storm emergency relief fund and acquired a drone to monitor the impacts of storms and floods in the town. Even though they’re trying to be proactive, Killman says that there are many ways that state and federal agencies can help.
“Number one, obviously funding. Number two, involvement of various people in each of the towns. Three, getting more elected officials involved and take this issues a lot more seriously," said Killman.
According to a former FEMA flood risk map, about 50 percent of Bethany Beach was in a flood risk zone. With the current map, it’s over 85 percent.