This month, City Council adopted the Sea Level Wise Adaptation Strategy into the Virginia Beach Comprehensive Plan. I have long been an advocate of a more comprehensive, long-term flooding mitigation plan for the city and I am excited that an overarching strategy has been formulated. Future flooding events will have wide-ranging impacts on our infrastructure, economy, and overall well-being – we must be proactive now.
This plan has developed strategies to respond to sea-level rise and related increases in flooding, including on the watershed level. Our region is experiencing the highest rate of sea-level rise on the east coast and heavier rainfall events are significantly impacting our low-lying lands. The frequency and severity of flooding is expected to increase through high tide flooding, wind tide flooding, storm surge flooding, rainfall flooding, and groundwater flooding, and the area of the city exposed by coastal flooding will likely increase by two-times by the 2070s.
An Adaptation Framework combines a variety of approaches to flood risk management designed to support each other to ensure comprehensive flood protection. These include:
- Preserve environmental assets, like green infrastructure and land conservation
- Increase natural features that absorb excess floodwater and mitigate the impact of flooding
- Develop programs to inform vulnerable residents about their flood risk and access to preparedness resources
- Pursue an expansive defense network by investing in long-term construction of large-scale structural defenses
- Require responsible site design and construction for new and substantial redevelopment that is reflective of future flood risks
- Encourage flood-resilient design or retrofits on residential and commercial properties
Sea level rise adaptation is very complicated due to not only its comprehensive components and associated costs, but also because of its uncertainties. The Sea Level Wise Adaptation Strategy can be further refined as our understanding of flooding mitigation continues to grow and the City will remain open to integrating additional adaptation options as new solutions arise.
If you have any questions about the Sea Level Wise Adaptation Strategy, please email me.