NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Three feet in less than the next 30 years. That’s the forecast from the Elizabeth River Project on sea level rise in Hampton Roads.
The ERP is looking forward to opening its new Ryan Resilience Lab that will provide a showcase of best practices to try to slow the trend.
“We’re working with all the area universities, citizens, businesses to be the place where you can learn what’s the latest,” said ERP Executive Director Marjorie Jackson in a Friday morning interview at the construction site at 47th and Colley.
And what is the latest on sea level rise in Hampton Roads?
“It’s anticipated by 2050 to be another three feet,” said ERP scientist and director of restoration Joe Rieger. “You’re looking at almost to the top of the existing bulkhead here by 2050.”
So ERP says turning the tide will need a team effort. That means waterside homeowners will need to dive in, and the new lab will show them how with techniques such as creating a living shoreline.
“Elizabeth River Project has a cost-share program to put in living shorelines, and/or rain gardens that are like mini sponges that can suck up water in their yard,” Rieger said.
That’s what the lab itself will have, too.
“The shore will gradually slope up and it will be restored wetlands, oyster habitat and native plants,” Jackson said.
The complex will feature a research dock, a circular boardwalk so people can get out and over the wetlands, fishing for kids, and classes both inside and out.
The 6200-square-foot lab will be solar powered, offer charging stations for vehicles, and use captured rainwater for toilets.
It will bear the name of lead donors Louis and Pru Ryan who used to live near the site – a former American Legion marina in an area that also once had a knitting mill and torpedo factory.
That was in the past. At present, Rieger says the seas in Hampton Roads keep rising.
The completion date for the new laboratory on Colley Avenue is set for maybe late Spring, probably early summer of next year.