VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - A team from the University of Virginia will be assisting citizens of Hampton Roads in long-range sea-level rise planning.
According to a study conducted by the University of Virginia, Virginia's largest city may get up to 45,000 acres smaller over the next century, due to an anticipated 2.3 to 5.2 feet of relative sea-level rise expected in Virginia Beach. It's a rise that would also impact the entire Hampton Roads region and the Eastern Shore.
UVA's Institute for Environmental Negotiation, headed by director Frank Dukes with the university's School of Architecture started forming partnerships with local leaders in March 2011.
As a result, they have come up with five relevant policy categories for the Beach, including education outreach, special taxes and updated zoning codes.
While flood waters are fairly common in many neighborhoods in Virginia Beach, the new study by UVA shows the watery scenes could happen more often.
"Sea level is very slowly rising, about that much every four or five years," Dr. Larry Atkinson of Old Dominion University said.
Atkinson, a professor of Oceanography, breaks down why this is happening.
"The oceans are rising, they're warming. Ice is melting on the glacier, so that's a little bit of increase, but then locally we're sinking," Atkinson said.
"I think I better move to higher ground," Virginia Beach resident Diane Miller said.
Miller and other Virginia Beach residents are noticing slight differences in the usual flooding.
"Maybe a little bit more water and it's standing longer so I think the water table has risen," said Miller.
"I feel like I have noticed more than usual especially, it's funny, but in parking lots," said Sharon Bivens of Virginia Beach.
Another place you see a change?
"Their insurance rates. They may see an insurance cost go up," said Atkinson.
Dr. Atkinson says local cities already started planning for the rising water. He says Norfolk contracted a Dutch company to conduct a study for protection possibilities in problem areas.
"One is to put a barricade across there to protect this area of Stockley Gardens and the Hague," said Atkinson pointing to the bridge that goes over the Hague.
So, can anything really be done to prepare your home for this?
"There's not much you can do. You can't stop the ocean," Atkinson said.
Dr. Atkinson says the projects Hampton Roads cities will have to put in place to protect area from flooding will cost tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars. He says the federal government is going to have to help foot the bill.
You might not notice some of the things being done to protect Hampton Roads' Property from rising waters. For example, Atkinson says some cities are already in the process of raising pumping stations and electrical sub stations to higher ground.
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