In December 2022, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced that SCOR will receive $750,675 from the National Coastal Resilience Fund to develop and implement the Resilient Coastal Communities Collaborative Program. The program will result in a resilience plan for the Salkehatchie River Basin and serve as a pilot program for watershed-based resilience planning statewide.
The program, a partnership between SCOR, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, and S.C. Beach Advocates, focuses on coordinating flood reduction solutions across the 7 counties and 34 municipalities in the Salkehatchie River Basin.
The project team will work with individual communities to co-produce 10 Community Risk and Vulnerability Reports that identify solutions to enhance resilience. These reports will then be integrated into a Salkehatchie River Basin Watershed Resilience Plan which will prioritize projects, programs, and policies geared towards improving community and ecosystem resilience.
Additionally, the project will produce a Watershed Resilience Planning Handbook to provide guidance for other communities looking to implement similar watershed-based resilience processes.
Coastal communities in S.C. are experiencing a greater number of tidal flooding events as well as high-intensity rain events overwhelming stormwater systems. Impacts from three presidentially declared disasters in four years highlighted the vulnerabilities of South Carolina to natural hazards and led to a statewide emphasis on strengthening resilience, including the creation of the S.C. Office of Resilience.
This program is a recommendation of, and will be informed by, the Strategic Statewide Resilience and Risk Reduction Plan. The Statewide Resilience Plan highlighted the need for coordination across political boundaries, recommending this watershed-based planning approach to be implemented statewide. Watershed-based planning is based on an assessment of a geographically defined watershed, the flow of water over the built and natural landscape, disregarding jurisdictional boundaries, and considering the downstream impacts of actions through all steps of the planning process.
There have been numerous studies, plans and initiatives focused on flood mitigation and resilience along the coast, however, not all communities have access to the resources necessary to conduct such planning activities, and many of these plans do not consider cross-jurisdictional impacts and solutions.
Using community engagement expertise and understanding of coastal issues from staff at the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium and S.C. Beach Advocates, the resulting project will directly engage socially vulnerable and historically underserved communities to identify issues and needs and develop specific and actionable solutions.
The watershed-based planning approach is being piloted in the Salkehatchie River Basin, which is one of eight major river basins in South Carolina and is located in the southern portion of the Lowcountry. The Salkehatchie River Basin includes all or portions of 7 counties: Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper.
Funding awarded from: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation – 2022 National Coastal Resilience Fund
Start date: 2023
Hope Warren, SC Office of Resilience