Southeast & Caribbean Region

SECART Partner Meeting Room 2017NOAA’s Southeast and Caribbean Regional Collaboration Team (SECART) organized a meeting with mostly Atlanta-based Federal Agency partners to share roles and responsibilities and explore opportunities for enhanced collaboration as related to three topics: 1) Hurricane Response (with a focus on Hurricane Matthew), 2) Water Resources and the Southeast Drought, and 3) Sand Resources.

Participants included representatives from the following agencies: Department of Agriculture (USDA), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Homeland Security – Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Office of Infrastructure Protection (IP), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA affiliated University partners (University of North Carolina, University of South Carolina, Auburn University), US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), US Geological Survey (USGS), and US Navy (USN). Most participants were assembled together in Atlanta and others participated remotely.

Agencies shared their roles and responsibilities related to the three topics, organized in separate sessions, and discussed ways to improve information sharing and coordination. General outcomes from the meeting include increased awareness of agency capabilities and responsibilities, contacts for cross-agency coordination, and some specific actions, including collaborating on webinars, sharing routine information (such as newsletters), and exploring regular calls to facilitate coordination.

During the Hurricane Matthew session, we identified that federal partners would benefit from additional training on NWS hurricane related products and services, especially regarding storm surge. We will utilize the attendee list to share Partner Meetinginformation regarding the NOAA SECART hurricane webinar series that occurs each May and encourage that they share it with appropriate people within their agencies. The webinar series is a collaboration between SECART team members and the National Hurricane Center to present updated information about pertinent hurricane related topics each year, with a focus on new products and services. The Hurricane Matthew Session was organized by Rich Bandy, John Schmidt, and Matt Moreland, NOAA.

The session on Water Resources and the Southeast Drought started with an overview of climate in the southeast (Southeast Regional Climate Center at UNC-Chapel Hill; SERCC), which was followed by NOAA, USGS, and USACE presentations related to forecasting and monitoring of water levels in streams, rivers and reservoirs. We then heard from agencies with responsibilities for drinking water (EPA), discharge into streams and rivers (EPA), infrastructure risks from flooding (DHS/IP), and use of water information to assist the agriculture community (USDA). We also learned about the interagency Drought Monitor, which assesses drought status across the US,and the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), which works to forecast the impacts of drought so that communities may better cope with it. Discussion led to identification of opportunities for enhanced sharing of information, such as monitoring locations and frequencies, and sharing newsletters, webinars and other communications. There was also discussion of expanding the range of the two Drought Early Warning Systems in the region to encompass the entire southeast region. Discussions are underway with the NIDIS office and the SERCC to conduct an assessment of southeast drought. The Water Resources session was organized by Ellen Mecray and John Schmidt, NOAA.

Sand Resources ImageThe Sand Resources session focused on sand resources of the nearshore zone of the southeast and Gulf of Mexico coasts, principally as related to dredging, restoration, and beach renourishment activities. Agency responsibilities include dredging for navigation and dredge disposal/utilization (USACE), assessment of sand resources and processes affecting those resources (USGS, BOEM), leasing of resource areas (BOEM), impacts of dredging to water quality (EPA), and impacts of sand resource utilization to habitats and endangered species (NOAA). It was noted that positive cross agency interaction occurs regularly. Discussion topics included the limited sand supply in some areas, opportunities for beneficial use of dredge material, and a regional sand management plan. The Sand Resources session was organized by Virginia Fay and Chris Taylor, NOAA.

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