Environmental Policy Program to Help Coastal Communities Anticipate the Effects of Sea Level Rise
Communities along Georgia's coast will be able to better anticipate and prepare for the potential effects of sea level rise as a result of research and outreach efforts to be conducted by the Institute of Government's Environmental Policy Program.
Through a two-year grant sponsored by Georgia Sea Grant, Institute faculty will use current research and employ new tools to help identify what areas in Camden, McIntosh, and Glynn counties are at risk of experiencing rising sea levels. As a result of rising waters, areas that are currently dry might not be in several decades. These changes will have implications for growth and land management, beach erosion, and infrastructure. Sea level rise can also impact storm surge magnitude and put new areas at risk during severe weather.
"Ask longtime locals from these areas and they will tell you that they have observed firsthand sea levels getting higher over the years," commented Dr. Jason Evans of the Environmental Policy Program. "They are concerned about the impact on the local economy and properties. We hope that this project will shine some light on what will be in store and how to use informed planning to prepare for it."
Institute faculty will hold meetings and workshops with community leaders, planners, and residents to present objective information about trends and effects of sea level rise. During the first year of the project, Institute faculty will coordinate technical workshops with city and county planners and zoning officials to explain what coastal areas are at risk and discuss local growth management plans and disaster and emergency preparedness issues.
The Institute's environmental policy experts will have assistance from the Institute's Applied Demography Program to integrate population trends into its projections and help predict what areas will experience the most growth in the coming decades. The Institute's Office of Information Technology Outreach Services (ITOS) will also contribute to the project by using geographic information systems (GIS) technology to examine parcel data and conduct a property risk assessment. The team will be able to forecast a dollar amount for the potential for lost property values at the regional level.
In year two, faculty, working closely with Georgia Sea Grant, will conduct intensive working meetings with elected officials, members of the public, and city and county planners and managers to build upon the outcomes of the technical workshops. They will use participatory GIS tools to help workshop participants construct land use change visioning scenarios that accommodate future economic development while also minimizing local vulnerability to sea level rise. All participating communities will have access to these visioning scenarios and associated GIS analyses for future decisions about coastal infrastructure and other comprehensive planning.