Delaware Sea Level Rise Initiative

The Delaware Coastal Programs Section of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) is leading a multi-year Sea Level Rise Initiative to help assess, prepare for and minimize the potential impacts of sea level rise. The Sea Level Rise Initiative Project Compendium was released in September 2011, which provides an inventory of all of Delaware Coastal Programs' projects related to sea level rise. It is intended to help increase collaboration between agencies, reduce redundancy and overlap in projects relating to sea level rise and to relay information about new data, information and tools.

In January 2010, the Secretary of the DNREC issued an order establishing as agency policy DNREC’s commitment to “proactively consider and plan for the potential effects of coastal inundation department-wide using projections based on the best available science." The policy directs DNREC staff and programs to:

1. Communicate the policy internally and externally when representing the department.

2. Consider the potential effect of coastal inundation in project planning, engineering, design, and review, as well as land acquisition, management, and restoration.

3. Conduct a vulnerability assessment for all DNREC holdings and assets to identify risks from inundation and develop plans to increase resiliency and adaptability within 12 to 18 months.

4. Consider project alternatives that avoid siting buildings and infrastructure within areas that are vulnerable to inundation, or if avoidance is not practicable, design projects to address the consequences of inundation.

5. Use a prescribed range of sea-level rise scenarios appropriate to a given project’s longevity and nature; with projects of a longer expected life or more sensitive nature, adopt more protective sea-level rise scenarios; and adjust values as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other peer reviewed publications produce updated projections and modeling techniques.

A DNREC Technical Workgroup comprised of scientists from DNREC, University of Delaware, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and the Center for the Inland Bays, was formed to evaluate the known scientific data and to provide the state with sea-level rise scenarios up to the year 2100, to be utilized in developing sea-level rise policy. For more information, these scenarios are described in another entry in this clearinghouse, "Recommended Sea Level Rise Scenarios for Delaware."


Publication Date: September 2011

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