South Carolina’s Shoreline Change Initiative

Created: 12/19/2010 - Updated: 3/02/2020


The Shoreline Change Initiative was created by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (DHEC-OCRM) in 2007. The Initiative aims to improve upon the existing regulatory coastal management framework established by the Beachfront Management Act of 1988 in order to keep pace with the long-term challenges of erosion, sea level rise, and coastal storms.


Sea level rise, erosion, and the increased frequency and severity of coastal storms expected with global climate change sparked the creation of the South Carolina Shoreline Change Initiative. Twenty-three experts, including scientists, managers, planners, and non-governmental representatives, formed the Shoreline Change Advisory Committee. This committee was charged with examining shoreline impacts from sea level rise, erosion, coastal storms, and rapid shoreline development.


The Shoreline Change Advisory Committee released the 2010 report Adapting to Shoreline Change: A Foundation for Improved Management and Planning in South Carolina. The report includes an overview of existing shoreline regulations and four goals and thirteen specific actions to improve coastal management in South Carolina.

Goal 1. Minimize Risks to Beachfront Communities

Recommendation 1 – Prevent the Seaward Expansion of Beachfront Development

Recommendation 2 – Strengthen the Beachfront Setback Area

Recommendation 3 – Eliminate Inconsistent Public Subsidies

Recommendation 4 – Strategically Acquire Beachfront Lands and/or Easements

Recommendation 5 – Strengthen the Role of Local Governments

Goal 2. Improve the Planning of Beach Renourishment Projects

Recommendation 6 – Develop and Implement Regional Sediment Management Plans

Recommendation 7 – Strengthen Reviews of Nearshore Dredging and Other Alterations

Recommendation 8 – Improve Beach Nourishment Monitoring

Goal 3.  Maintain Prohibitions and Further Restrict the Use of Hard Stabilization Structures

Recommendation 9 – Refine Criteria for Emergency Orders and Sandbags

Recommendation 10 – Improve Guidelines for Groins and Breakwaters

Recommendation 11 – Expand Beachfront Real Estate Disclosure Requirements

Goal 4. Enhance the Management of Sheltered Coastlines

Recommendation 12 – Manage Erosion Control in Estuaries

Recommendation 13 - Establish Non-Beachfront Shoreline Buffer Areas

Outcomes and Conclusions

The Shoreline Change Advisory Committee released a report with various recommendations to improve shoreline policy and management action in South Carolina. DHEC-OCRM staff will review these recommendations and provide specific responses to help local and state officials develop a coordinated shoreline management response to sea level rise, coastal storms, and erosion.


Last updated December 2010


Gregg, R. M. (2010). South Carolina's Shoreline Change Initiative [Case study on a project of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE:’s-shoreline-change-initiative (Last updated December 2010)

Project Contact(s)

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is the state agency charged with protecting public health, coastal resources, and the state’s land, air and water quality as authorized under multiple state and federal laws. Approximately 3,800 full-time DHEC employees around the state provide vital healthcare and other direct services, monitor pollution, coordinate disease control, carry out the agency’s inspection and regulatory responsibilities, respond to environmental emergencies, and protect public health and the environment in numerous other ways.


Scale of Project
State / Provincial
Sector Addressed
Land Use Planning
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Sea level rise
Storms or extreme weather events
Climate Type
5-10 years
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Create or modify shoreline management measures
Governance and Policy
Create new or enhance existing policies or regulations
Effort Stage
In progress