~ Create or Modify Shoreline Management Measures

There are four primary shoreline management measures employed to address erosion issues – hard structures (e.g., rip rap, bulkheads), soft stabilization (e.g., living shorelines), hybrid (hard plus soft measures), and policy and planning techniques (e.g., managed retreat, setbacks).238 Hard structures used in shoreline armoring can require the removal of native vegetation and soils; constructing “living” shorelines meanwhile, involves the planting of vegetation to stabilize banks and trap sediments from runoff. Managed retreat and relocation of communities and infrastructure may be required in more extreme cases. Green infrastructure239 and low impact development240 practices are also being used, which mimic and support the use of natural features, including permeable surfaces, swales, water retention ponds, green roofs, urban forestry, green alleys and streets, rain barrels, and rain gardens; these techniques can moderate increases in temperature and changes in precipitation patterns.

In Detroit, climate change is likely to bring more intense rainstorms, resulting in more flooding and sewage overflows polluting the Great Lakes. In response, the Sierra Club Great Lakes Program decided to investigate green infrastructure solutions – everything from rain barrels and cisterns to rain gardens and constructed wetlands to landscaping with native vegetation and using permeable pavers – that create rainwater filtration at the surface before water enters the sewer system. The Sierra Club has been working to educate community groups and residents throughout Detroit about climate change, its impacts on sewer overflows, green infrastructure methods that individuals and communities can employ, and how green infrastructure can help reduce sewer overflows as well as save residents money on water bills.241

Other groups have taken integrated planning approaches. For example, in 2006, the Ohio Lake Erie Commission (OLEC) launched the Balanced Growth Program, a voluntary, incentive-based initiative to manage growth in the Lake Erie watershed. The program develops watershed-based planning partnerships among local communities, provides guidance on land use practices for minimizing impacts on water quality, and enables communities to build adaptive capacity to climate change. The OLEC has also updated the Lake Erie Protection and Restoration Plan, which now recognizes climate change as a priority area and sets a goal to help watershed communities and landowners understand and prepare for climate change impacts. To facilitate this goal, members of the Balanced Growth Technical Advisory Committee have developed model legislation for shoreline development that recognizes climate change impacts.242

238 NOAA Shoreline Management: Alternatives to Hardening the Shore.

239 Center for Clean Air Policy. (2011). The Value of Green Infrastructure for Urban Climate Adaptation.

240 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Low Impact Development.

241 Kershner, J. M. (2012). Using Green Infrastructure to Prevent Sewage Overflows in Detroit [Case study on a project of the Sierra Club Great Lakes Program – Michigan]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program (Last updated October 2012)

242 Ohio Balanced Growth Program.