What was Dr. Jeffrey Payne’s goal when it came to our latest Holland Lifelong Learning event? Get the conversation started. And he certainly did just that. More than 60 guests gathered at Holy City Brewing on Wednesday, October 19th to hear Dr. Payne’s presentation, and enjoyed samples of the brewery’s Slanted Porch Pale Ale and Papa John’s pizza generously donated by Philip Horn.
Dr. Payne, Director at NOAA Office for Coastal Management, focused his talk on sea level rise in the Lowcountry, including the occurrence of nuisance flooding – flooding that leads to public inconveniences such as road closures – of which we are seeing more and more each year. Charleston ranks in the top 10 U.S. cities with the highest increase in nuisance flooding, and the data presented shows this will continue to increase in the coming years. “Today’s flood is tomorrow’s high tide,” Dr. Payne said. “NOAA anticipates an increase in sea level in Charleston between 0.59 feet and 1.79 feet by 2050.”
One solution for a growing problem that Dr. Payne introduced to the audience is the use of green infrastructure for a developing area. “Green infrastructure” refers to natural barriers that can be created to alleviate the effects of rising tides, which can include oyster beds and sea grasses, forested wetlands, sand dunes, living shorelines, etc.
Taking a proactive role to educate yourself on this issue plays a major role in Charleston’s resilience planning. After Dr. Payne’s discussion, an open question and answer session illustrated that we have a very strong base of concerned citizens already in this area, and potential solutions continue to form. In 2016, the South Carolina Aquarium launched the Resilience Initiative for Coastal Education (RICE), which was designed to engage citizens throughout our state, and in municipalities along the coast in discussions on this critical topic. One project of the R.I.C.E. program is the SeaRise tool. With SeaRise, you can determine how susceptible you are to coastal flooding at home, at work, and on your daily commute.