Investments in ‘green infrastructure’ top choice to combat flooding, VB report says

Flooding

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — As city leaders prepare to make tough decisions on funding flood mitigation projects, the latest draft of Virginia Beach’s sea level rise study makes it clear: go green.

89 percent of polled residents identified that they strongly support investments in natural features to absorb water, the final draft of the $4 million study states.

It’s just one of many pieces of new information included in the report that will provide a better idea of how much sea level rise to expect, how the city could fight back and how much it would cost.

Flooding has become the hot topic in the city the last few years, especially following Hurricane Matthew in 2016. 

Dewberry, the company commissioned to conduct the study, estimates based on scientific models that Virginia Beach should plan for about a foot and a half of sea level rise by 2050, and three feet by 2080.

“I’m very proud of the work we have done here,” said CJ Bodnar, with the city’s Stormwater Engineering Center.

Many of the proposals listed to combat the rising tides are quite expensive and will take years of planning. However, Bodnar says some of the ones residents favor, may be easier to tackle.

“There are things that we can do green infrastructure now that we can start implementing,” Bodnar says.

One of those would be creating living shorelines as well as marshlands to help bring grass back to our waterways.

While southern winds can push water up the Albemarle Sound into Back Bay, Bodnar says grass can slow it down.

“Basically duplicate what nature does with a man-made solution, create some marsh islands that reestablish those grasses,” Bodnar says.

Exact costs on doing those projects aren’t yet known, but feasibility studies could cost up to $500 million.

Flooding poses problems for just about every part of Hampton Roads, but Virginia Beach is uniquely suited to get hit from every angle: the Atlantic pushes in from the east, the Chesapeake Bay from the north, the Elizabeth River from the west and the Currituck Sound from the south.

You still have time to weigh in before the final draft is submitted to City Council.

View a copy of the report here and email comments to slr-comments@vbgov.com

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