City of Lewes

From the Executive Summary:

Lewes, Delaware, with its strong history of hazard mitigation planning and preparedness is perfectly poised to take advantage of an increasing understanding of climate change impacts. It is already known that temperatures are rising, glaciers are retreating, snowpack is disappearing, spring is arriving earlier, and seas are rising. These changes will exacerbate hazards that are known to threaten Lewes today. While these changes cannot be prevented, the effects of these events are dependent upon the choices and actions that Lewes makes today.

Given the increasing future threats that Lewes faces, the overall goal of the Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation pilot project has been to further the City’s hazard mitigation work by incorporating climate adaptation. The project has developed this unified plan that aims to improve community sustainability and resilience. Local officials and residents have been engaged through four workshops to determine the City’s greatest existing and future vulnerabilities and to chart a course of action to reduce these vulnerabilities.

The subsequent sections provide further details on the project, the methods used and the outcomes of the effort. Section 1 focuses on providing a context for this effort and details the methods used. Section 2 provides a case for engaging in both hazard mitigation and climate adaptation. Section 3 details the natural hazards assessed. Section 4 is focused on the climate change knowledge and impacts to natural hazards that were presented to workshop participants. Section 5 outlines the vulnerability self‐assessments that were conducted during the workshops. These assessments resulted in the identification of two key vulnerabilities. The first is Lewes’ water system and the combined threats of saltwater intrusion into the aquifer and destruction of water conveyance systems that it faces from sea level rise. The second vulnerability is the destructive impacts on homes and City infrastructure from increased flooding.

Based upon these two key vulnerabilities, Section 6 describes the action selection process. Through this process, the following six actions were identified as recommendations that the City begin implementing. Finally, Section 7 provides implementation guidance for these identified actions.

  • Incorporate climate change concerns into the comprehensive plan and into future reviews of the building and zoning codes. Recommended actions and implementation guidance are included on page 53.
  • Improve outreach and education particularly focused on successful behavior changes related to home building and retrofits. Recommended actions and implementation guidance are included on page 59.
  • Ensure that aquifer information is integrated into all planning efforts. Recommended actions and implementation guidance are included on page 63.
  • Use elevation data to determine road levels and evacuation risk. Recommended actions and implementation guidance are included on page 65.
  • Evaluate the City and the Board of Public Works (BPW) infrastructure's flood vulnerability from direct flood impacts as well as from indirect flood impacts to access routes. Recommended actions and implementation guidance are included on page 67.
  • Improve the City’s level of participation in the community rating system (CRS). Recommended actions and implementation guidance are included on page 69.
Published On

ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability

ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability is the leading nonprofit membership association devoted to local governments engaged in sustainability, climate protection, and clean energy initiatives.  In the United States, ICLEI USA is the recognized leader in its field, creating cutting-edge tools and establishing national standards.


Community / Local
Sector Addressed
Disaster Risk Management
Land Use Planning
Water Resources
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Capacity Building
Invest in / Enhance emergency services planning and training
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Conduct vulnerability assessments and studies
Host adaptation training or planning workshop
Conduct scenario planning exercise
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Infrastructure retrofitting and improvements
Community Planning (developing climate-smart communities)
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Infrastructure damage
Salinization / Saltwater intrusion
Sea level rise
Storms or extreme weather events
Water quality
Habitat/Biome Type
Sociopolitical Setting