In September 2018, a subcommittee of the Town of Kiawah Island’s Environmental Committee submitted a report to the Town Council. This report, Flood Mitigation and Sea Level Rise Adaptation for Kiawah Island, SC, was the result of 18 months of study and provided over a hundred recommendations for how the island could respond to the challenges of sea level rise and climate change. Both the town and the Kiawah Island Community Association (KICA) responded positively to the report and undertook a variety of proactive actions in response to the recommendations.
A key recommendation in the report was the implementation of an Adaptive Management Plan (AMP) to monitor conditions on Kiawah that may require intervention. KICA has established a task force, with endorsement by the town, to guide the initial phase of development of this plan. The goal for this first phase is to identify conditions that property owners find undesirable or unacceptable as a result of flooding induced by continuing sea level rise, as well as the environmental consequences of increasing periods of drought broken by periods of intense rainfall. These conditions, or “thresholds,” are situations that we never want to reach. The total AMP Plan will include “trigger points,” warnings that actions are needed to avoid a threshold breach; a monitoring program that will follow “indicators” related to the trigger points; and a “response plan” to either prevent the threshold from being reached or take actions to adapt to that threshold. Additional information on these terms and processes will be provided as the AMP is developed.
The development of the AMP is likely to take about a year, with the first step being the identification of “thresholds.” Thresholds will be established by considering impacts on public infrastructure, private property and the island’s environment. Since thresholds are primarily value judgments, their identification needs to reflect the diversity of community values. In order to reflect the values of the Kiawah community, the task force is planning for two opportunities for community input in this initial phase of the AMP development: virtual focus group meetings and a community survey. While face-to-face feedback is preferred, the COVID-19 outbreak limits our opportunities for face-to-face community input.
For the virtual focus groups, the AMP Task Force is seeking to put together small groups of property owners representing full-time or part-time residents with diversity of geographical location on the island, type of housing, and property usage. The participants are expected to contribute about five hours of time to read preparatory materials and participate in the virtual meeting with other property owners to help develop threshold statements. The virtual meetings will be held during the month of August. These threshold statements will then be used to develop a community survey that will be distributed to property owners and interested Kiawah parties to gain a consensus on the key thresholds that are of concern. The results will be presented to the Town Council and the KICA Board of Directors in November 2020.
If you are interested in learning more about participating in the virtual focus groups, please contact task force chair and KICA resilience specialist Lucas Hernandez at email@example.com by July 31. Decisions about participation will be made to ensure a diverse representation of the Kiawah community. In your email please include the following information:
Thanks for your interest in this important initiative on behalf of Kiawah Island.
Sent on behalf of the AMP Task Force,
Lucas Hernandez, Chair