5 Ways Cumberland County Bayshore can Ebb Rising Seas

Posted by Spencer Kent, South Jersey Times on Nov 17, 2014

As the Bayshore continues to recover from the devastation left by Superstorm Sandy, it also continues to deal with the gradual effects of rising sea levels.

The tidal station at Lewes, Delaware estimates that sea levels in the region have risen slightly more than a foot over the last 100 years, based on monthly mean sea level data from 1919 to 2013, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tides and currents website. The Cape May tidal station estimates a little more than a foot-and-a-half, based on data from 1965 to 2013.

At Tuesday night’s Rising Tides Forum at the Bayshore Center at Bivalve in Port Norris, experts from various marine and coastal environment organizations spoke to a crowd about the effect of rising sea levels along the Delaware Bay and ways the Bayshore can curb the impact of rising sea levels. Additionally, the forum also gave homeowners an opportunity to learn about flood protection in the event of a future storm surge.

1. Fortify marshes in three key areas: Fortescue, Money Island and the mouth of the Maurice River

In June, the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary was tasked with identifying the health of these three primary areas in Downe Township, which are considered extremely vulnerable to rising sea levels.

“Fortescue and Money Island are sinking,” said Josh Moody, restoration coordinator for the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.

He added: "Marshes provide flood protection. They soak up water from storm surges and run-off.”

And without fortifying the marshes, Moody said the area will continue to sink and further erode.

Meghan Wren, director of the Bayshore Center in Bivalve, said though no funding has yet been obtained to fix the marshes at the mouth of the Maurice River, she said it remains a top priority.

2. Soft armoring

Moody said by using "soft armoring" techniques like "living shorelines" (manmade coconut fiber logs, oyster shell, or other natural), material can have an immense impact on reducing erosion. 

3. Dune restoration

Dr. Peter Rowe, associate director of the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium, highlighted the importance of restoring dunes, which play a vital role in alleviating the devastating effect of wind and waves.

Last week, Downe Township Mayor Bob Campbell reported that work on dunes in the township had begun. He said students from the township school district were out helping restore dunes at various beachfronts in Fortescue that were impacted by Superstorm Sandy.

4. Better inform and engage public

Regarding rising sea levels, Rowe said after Tuesday night's forum: "It is happening, it has been happening and will continue to happen."

In one of his slides, he said he believes people are "not fully informed about range and scope of potential impacts from climate change with disconnect between climate change and sea level rise."

He later added: "It is important we get out the information to communities so they can make informed science-based decisions."

5. Give the pubic avenues to better fortify their property

Eric Majusiak, of the Army Corps of Engineers National Flood Proofing Committee, gave a presentation on how homeowners can reduce their risk of flooding.

Majusiak versed the audience in how the Army Corps of Engineers can guide people in: elevation; relocation; buyout/acquisition; dry flood proofing; wet flood proofing; local berms or floodwalls; flood warning and preparedness and flood insurance.

“I want people to leave here with a better understanding about the options and how we can better help guide people to improve the resiliency of their homes,” he said.

After the forum:

Wren said she hoped residents got some practical solutions and learned ways to be more engaged.

Drew Tomlin, long-life resident of Leesburg, said he wasn’t that impressed with the information relayed Tuesday night.

“More talk, no action,” he said. “What are they actually doing?”

Wren said in February, the Bayshore Redevelopment Committee will hold a public event to present all the accomplishments made in restoring the Bayshore communities.

Kathryn Ryan, of Fortescue, said she found the meeting very helpful and informative. 

"It was worth coming out and listening to in the cold," she said.

The event was hosted by the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium.

Full story at NJ.com

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