New Report Details Impact of Rising Sea Levels in Delaware
LEWES, Del. - Rising sea levels could leave up to 11 percent of Delaware under water over the next century, according to a new report.
The Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control examined the impact of rising waters between 1.6 and 4.9 feet. Under the worst case scenario, up to 17,000 homes, hundreds of roads and 74,000 acres of preserved land could be impacted.
The report shows rising sea level could impact all three Delaware counties and up to 31 of the state's 57 cities and towns.
"I think it should be a concern for all people who live the bay," said Michael Costello of Kitts Hummock.
Costello is especially concerned about communities along the Delaware Bay. He said the state's failure to build up the dunes in Kitts Hummock could put the community at a greater risk in the future.
"We spend an awful lot of money on an awful lot of things. I think to save small beach communities is well within that economic investment," said Costello.
While many agree that changes are in store, there are still questions over how much water levels will rise and when.
"The challenge is really don't know how fast the acceleration will occur," said Collin O'Mara, secretary of the DNREC.
O'Mara said the next step is to use the data to recommend changes in preparation for rising sea level. One challenge will be finding the greatest benefit to spending the state's limited funds. Still, the secretary said taking precautions early on is likely the most cost effective approach.
"It's not going to happen in a linear, year-by-year fashion," said O'Mara. "Once it gets bad, it's going to get really bad, really quickly."
The state has already set aside several million dollars in recent budgets to upgrade levees, O'Mara said.
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