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Policy Statement 330 - Coastal Data Collection Program

 

Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on November 13, 2017
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on May 6, 2018
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 13, 2018

Policy 

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports:

  • Coastal data-collection programs of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and other government agencies as essential for planning storm risk management systems and coastal restoration.
  • Continued resources for climate change and estuarine science programs.
  • USACE Coastal Field Data Collection Programs.
  • State and local government coastal data programs to initiate, support, and participate in the federal programs.
  • Research into the relationship between the nature of the coastal environment and the impacts of climate change and wetlands preservation.
  • Improved access to coastal data programs for all agencies and the general public.

Issue 

The basic coastal data collection programs of NOAA, USACE, USGS, and other agencies are vitally important to sound coastal zone planning, design, construction and management. Coastal environmental problems continue to increase in number and complexity, thus increasing the need for additional coastal-zone data collection and research. Government agencies provide the necessary data, which are the basis for protection and sustainable development of coastal wetlands, marshes, estuaries and coasts. Issues of national concern such as climate change and wetlands preservation increase the need for coastal data collection and research, yet these new program directions compete directly for resources with the continuation of long-term basic coastal data collection programs.

The federal government must take the lead in collecting and making available all necessary data to monitor, model and forecast storm surge, reduced estuary inflows and other natural disaster events. There must be adequate funding on a continuing basis sufficient to allow prediction of storm surges, sediment transport, and risk assessment to allow effective management of changes to established hydrogeomorphological processes such as the interaction of the sea with river systems and water, sand, and sediment along the coast and in estuaries.

Rationale 

America's coasts are an important asset. The coast is a vital component of our natural hurricane and storm protection systems. A majority of our citizens live, work, and recreate within 50 miles of coasts. Coastal wetlands, marshes and estuaries provide essential nurseries and feeding grounds for an abundance of marine life, birds and other animals.  Ports, coastal-related industry, and commerce are vital to our economic survival. There are serious problems that threaten the continued value of the coastal zone to the nation. These problems include beach erosion, loss of coastal wetlands, unsustainable development, degradation of water quality in estuaries and coastal waters, sea level rise, and sedimentation. Solutions to these problems are needed. In many instances, the necessary information required to formulate solutions to these problems is lacking or incomplete. Accurate and complete data, collected in a consistent manner over the long-term, is the basis of accurate modeling of coastal changes and storms and their consequent risk to the public health, safety, and welfare and the environment.

The status and trends program of NOAA, and the National Wetlands Inventory programs of NOAA, USACE, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are important elements of estuarine science. The USACE Coastal Field Data Collection Programs provide critical understanding of waves and currents that are the driving forces of coastal erosion. These data are essential to monitor, model and forecast storm surge and other natural disaster events so that we may adequately assess the risk to our coastal communities.  

To provide the necessary data for solutions to these problems, long-term sufficiently funded programs in observation, monitoring, research and development, and prediction are needed. Sound management and conservation decisions require a thorough understanding of the environment; including coastal processes. Such an understanding can only be developed after thorough observation, research, and assessment programs based on reliable data.

ASCE Policy Statement 330
First Approved in 1987

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