Living Shorelines Regulations Update

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.

What is a Living Shoreline?

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 .

Development of a Regulatory Definition for Living Shoreline

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 the 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 a National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) Science Collaborative project, Summary of Living Shoreline Research to Inform Regulatory Decision-Making in South Carolina, conducted by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and funded by the National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) Science Collaborative. This project involved monitoring and evaluation of existing oyster-based living shorelines.

DHEC develops regulations in accordance with the South Carolina Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”), S.C. Code Section 1-23-10 et seq. For more information on this process visit, How Does S.C. DHEC Develop Regulations. APA process milestones for living shoreline regulation development are outlined below.

  • April 24, 2020: Notice of Drafting published in the South Carolina State Register
    • 30-day public comment period closed May 26, 2020
  • September 25, 2020: Notice of Proposed Regulations published in the South Carolina State Register
    • 30-day public comment period closed October 26, 2020 
  • December 10, 2020: Public Hearing before DHEC Board
    • UPCOMING PUBLIC COMMENT OPPORTUNITY: The S.C. Board of Health and Environmental Control will conduct a public hearing on the proposed amendments during its December 10, 2020, 10:00 a.m. meeting. Interested persons may make oral and/or submit written comments at the public hearing. Persons making oral comments should limit their statements to five (5) minutes or less. The meeting will take place in the Board Room of the DHEC Building, located at 2600 Bull Street, Columbia, S.C. 29201. Due to admittance procedures, all visitors must enter through the main Bull Street entrance and register at the front desk. The Department will publish a meeting agenda twenty-four (24) hours in advance indicating the order of its scheduled items at:

Working Group Meetings

January 29, 2020


May 29, 2019


May 2, 2018


December 7, 2017


February 17, 2017