Coastal Management

A map of Delaware's coastal zone, including water and land

Delaware is a coastal state that protects habitat, water quality and its ocean ecosystems from the Delaware Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. It balances that preservation with recreational use, public access, and economic development.  Delaware's coastal areas have been described as the most critical areas for the future of the State in terms of the quality of life in the State.

In 1972, Congress enacted the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) which established a voluntary partnership between the federal government and coastal states to address national coastal issues with a local focus. The Delaware Coastal Management Program was approved in 1979, and is a cooperative program between the State of Delaware and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that works to preserve and protect the state’s coastal resources while balancing coastal resource use and economic development.  The CZMA addresses a wide range of issues including coastal hazards, habitat protection, coastal development, water quality, public access, energy facility siting, and ocean planning. As of 2018, Delaware coastline is 381 miles and it has a population of 897,934.  Approximately 15% of the people who live in Sussex County Delaware are in a floodplain.  In this ocean-dependent part of the state, tourism and recreation are the largest employers.  

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) oversees programs to manage coastal resources and it works with county and local governments to use land use planning to help protect the coasts.  DNREC helps communities prepare for, manage, and mitigate coastal flooding.  It also offers opportunities for coastal recreation.


For additional information about Delaware's coast and how it will be impacted by climate change and sea level rise, please refer to the following references: 

The Delaware Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment

The Delaware Climate Projections Portal (University of Delaware)

The Delaware Sea Level Rise Inundation Map