Carper talk sea-level rise on Climate Change Tour

Date Published: 
May 12, 2017

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: From left, Dewey Beach Town Councilman Mike Dunmyer, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, Chris Bason of the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays and Karen McGrath, Carper’s Sussex County regional director, gather on the Rehoboth Bay on April 21.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: From left, Dewey Beach Town Councilman Mike Dunmyer, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, Chris Bason of the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays and Karen McGrath, Carper’s Sussex County regional director, gather on the Rehoboth Bay on April 21.U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) visited four flood-prone towns in Delaware on April 21, ending the visit in Dewey Beach. The Climate Change Tour highlighted areas that are already commonly prone to damage from storms and high-tide events, which are just the start of the inconvenience of climate change and rising sea levels.

During the tour, staff from the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays highlighted new projects under way to improve stormwater management and reduce flooding through more natural means, such as building “living shorelines” that mimic nature’s ability to buffer land from strong bay tides.

The Dewey Beach Lions Club showed off their marshland park, a protected chunk of land that absorbs water like a sponge but also educates people about the local ecosystem.

“It’s our neighbor here. … It’s in need of attention,” said Lions member Bill Zolper.

Their next-door neighbor, Marty Tarr, said she’s seen the effects of erosion and rising seas, looking down from her patio into the marsh for the past 10 years.

At the Delaware Environmental Observing System, director Kevin Brinson explained that tides are being monitored regularly, following the day-to-day changes and helping warn authorities when evacuations are needed during storms.

Meanwhile, the Delaware Department of Transportation’s Environmental Studies Office is preparing the results of a recent vulnerability assessment of Route 1. Coastal Sussex Countians have come to expect that the Indian River Inlet Bridge will close when a storm floods the coastal highway.

Small projects, like those happening on the road ends in Dewey Beach, contribute to protecting Route 1 —a major thoroughfare and an evacuation route.

“Our earth is getting warmer, and our seas are rising,” Carper said. “It’s important we address why our globe is warming, why our seas are rising.”

He emphasized that now is the time for people and agencies to work together to address the issue.