Under Section 309 of the Coastal Zone Management Act, DHEC-OCRM develops strategies that address priority issues within the coastal zone. Living shorelines are part of OCRM's current 309 strategy. Strategy goals include the development of success criteria for evaluating the performance of living shorelines, monitoring of existing living shorelines, establishment a regulatory definition of living shorelines, and the development of specific regulatory project standards for the permitting of living shoreline projects in South Carolina.
To achieve these goals, DHEC has convened a Living Shorelines Working Group to guide and inform the strategy implementation process. The Working Group will develop living shoreline site success criteria and identify a subset of existing living shoreline projects for continued monitoring.
In low to moderate wave energy environments, living shorelines offer a softer solution to shoreline stabilization than traditional erosion control structures like bulkheads, revetments, and seawalls. Living shoreline projects use a variety of structural and organic materials, such as wetland plants, oyster reefs, coir fiber logs, compatible fill, and stone. Living shorelines provide a number of benefits including shoreline stabilization, protection of surrounding riparian and intertidal environments, water quality improvement through upland runoff filtration, and creation of habitat for aquatic and terrestrial species. Additional information is available through the NOAA Restoration Center.
Currently, DHEC-OCRM does not have specific project standards or regulations to guide the permitting and construction of living shoreline projects. The lack of specific project standards, or even a regulatory definition, for living shorelines results in longer permit review times, loose design requirements, and potentially ineffective projects. The outcomes of this 309 strategy will be a regulatory definition for living shorelines and the development of specific project standards for living shorelines in South Carolina with the goal of streamlining the permitting process where possible. Project standards will be based in part on lessons learned from an existing project, Evaluating Living Shorelines to Inform Regulatory Decision-Making in South Carolina, which is being conducted by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and funded by the National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) Science Collaborative. This project involves monitoring and evaluation of existing oyster-based living shorelines