EPA and NOAA Partner to Help Coastal CommunitiesBackground
This report by EPA and NOAA presents ideas on how coastal and waterfront communities could create environmentally and economically sustainable neighborhoods while minimizing risks of coastal and waterfront flooding.
Populations and built environments in coastal watersheds are growing rapidly. In 2011, 53 percent of the U.S. population lives in coastal counties, and by 2020, the number is expected to grow by 8 percent.1 The environmental impacts of development directly affect coastal communities' ability to balance natural resource protection with sustainable economic growth. These impacts also affect the federal government's ability to achieve national goals for sustainable management of coastal resources and protection of human health and the environment. Climate change impacts will further challenge coastal communities with changes to ecosystems, sea-level rise, coastal erosion, more intense storm events, and changes in the frequency and volume of precipitation. Coastal communities will need to find strategies to adapt to these changes to protect their residents, businesses, ecosystems, and property.
To help communities respond to these challenges, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have renewed their joint agreement to protect the safety, health, and property of people living in or visiting coastal communities and to help these communities become more environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable. Under the agreement, the two agencies will partner with local communities and other governmental entities to give waterfront communities the tools and resources they need to grow in ways that benefit the economy, public health, and the environment while protecting coastal ecosystems, including anticipating and reducing the impacts of climate change.
Under the agreement, EPA and NOAA will:
- Provide technical assistance and training to communities to help them implement more sustainable construction and land use practices;
- Develop innovative, web-based tools to provide interested communities and other stakeholders with essential scientific and technical information;
- Collaborate on the development of the National Coastal Condition Assessment and Reports that depict the condition of the nation's coastal waters based on data collected and analyzed by state agencies; and
- Support place-based projects focused on equitable development and climate adaptation in coastal communities.
This agreement builds on a 2005-2010 EPA-NOAA partnership that provided training on resilience and smart growth to over 400 coastal community officials and developed the publication Smart Growth for Coastal and Waterfront Communities. In addition, the agencies collaborated on technical assistance to help coastal communities examine options for implementing smart growth approaches.
This revised agreement between EPA and NOAA fits with several ongoing collaborations among federal agencies. The Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force recommends that federal agencies work together to help communities build resilience to climate change. President Obama's 2010 National Ocean Policy stresses the need for improved interagency coordination and integration. This agreement will also build on the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities, in which the three agencies coordinate federal housing, transportation, and other infrastructure investments to protect the environment, promote equitable development, and help to address the challenges of climate change.
Read the Memorandum of Agreement between EPA and NOAA (PDF) (12 pp, 2.4MB, About PDF).
For more information on the EPA-NOAA partnership, please contact Lynn Desautels (email@example.com, 202-566-2840) in EPA's Office of Sustainable Communities, Jamal Kadri (firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-566-1248) in EPA's Office of Water, or Sarah van der Schalie (Sarah.vanderSchalie@noaa.gov, 301-713-3155 x106) at NOAA.
1 From NOAA's State of the Coast website. Data source: Woods and Poole Economics, Inc. 2010. Complete Economic and Demographic Dataset. Data processed by NOAA to determine coastal county summary totals and absolute and percent change.