This February, the Virginia General Assembly amended and reenacted § 10.1-602 of the Code of Virginia in order to instate a comprehensive flood protection plan for the Commonwealth. § 10.1-602 orders the update of the existing flood protection plan for the Commonwealth, adding to it the requirements of an inventory of flood-prone areas, an inventory of flood protection studies, a record of flood damages, strategies to prevent or mitigate flood damage, and the distribution of information regarding flooding and flood plain management. In short, the Assembly enacted the most comprehensive Virginia flood management bill to-date, and with it comes the question of how to begin addressing stormwater damages from rising sea-levels.
Currently, Hampton Roads is experiencing 2x the relative sea-level rise as other Atlantic coastal communities, with one “2013 study by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) in Gloucester Point [forecasting] Tidewater’s sea-level rise at between 1.5 feet and 7.5 feet by the end of the century.” In response, the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is rolling out a new plan for the area with a major emphasis on local, state, and federal cooperation. In addressing the task ahead of Federal and Virginia agencies and municipalities, Corps Commander Col. Paul Olsen said, “Water just doesn’t care about political boundaries. They don’t care if you’re a county, they don’t care if you’re a country. Water just rises. Sea-level rise and climate change is not cheap. But it’s cheaper when you’re together.”
To learn more about the USACE’s vision for flood protection on Virginia’s coast, listen to this segment from Virginia Public Radio.