As Virginia seeks feedback from people affected by flooding to develop a coastal protection plan, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) urges leaders to use this opportunity to provide greater water quality protections while defending vulnerable communities.
The Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plan, scheduled to be completed in November, will provide a roadmap for adapting to climate change in the years to come and builds on a framework issued last year. The master plan will include priority resiliency projects, financing strategies, and a plan for coordination among state, federal, and local governments. It will also incorporate the latest climate change projections.
Virginia is convening eight events across the Commonwealth in the coming weeks to seek public comments on the master plan. The discussions will take place in Northern Virginia, the Richmond area, Hampton Roads, the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula, and the Eastern Shore.
“These events will provide Virginians with an opportunity to contribute to the strategies being crafted to address the increased flooding and extreme storms we’re already experiencing,” said CBF Virginia Executive Director Peggy Sanner. “We are hopeful the master plan will help ensure greener, cleaner, and healthier communities along our coast, especially in areas where disinvestment over decades has increased vulnerability to flooding.”
CBF believes the final plan should emphasize nature-based solutions, including living shorelines, rain gardens, and enhanced tree canopies in urban and suburban areas. These measures offer multiple benefits. Native plants and trees can alleviate flooding by absorbing and filtering rainfall from storms. This in turn reduces polluted runoff to rivers, streams, and creeks. Greener neighborhoods create shade that cools summer hotspots and builds habitat that attracts songbirds, blue crabs, and other wildlife.
Many Virginia communities grappling with fewer resources and historic patterns of disinvestment face major challenges when working to defend against extreme weather and sea level rise. Indeed, in Virginia, about 1,500 affordable housing units could be at risk from flooding and sea-level rise by 2050, the fourth highest number in any state, according to recent research. Virginia’s coastal resilience plan should be crafted to protect these housing units and marginalized communities.
“To ensure the master plan achieves these goals, it is important that people speak up.” said Sanner. “Please, spread the word that Virginia is finalizing its plan now, fill out the survey, and attend a meeting. It will make a difference.”
Anyone can fill out the survey Virginia has developed, available here, to gauge how flooding and storms are affecting local communities.
The public events will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and include:
- George Washington Regional Commission: July 27, Germanna Community College, 10000 Germanna Point Dr, Fredericksburg, VA 22408
- PLANRVA (Richmond Regional PDC): July 28, 9211 Forest Hill Avenue, Suite 200, Richmond, VA 23235
- Crater PDC: July 29, 10001 Iron Bridge Road, Chesterfield, VA 23832
- Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission: August 3, Rappahannock Community College, Glenns Campus, 12745 College Drive, Saluda VA
- Northern Neck PDC: August 4, 457 Main Street, Warsaw, VA 22572
- Hampton Roads PDC: August 5, 723 Woodlake Drive, Chesapeake, VA 23320
- Northern Virginia Regional Commission: August 10, Northern Virginia Community College – Annandale, 8333 Little River Turnpike Annandale, VA
- Accomack-Northampton PDC: August 11, Eastern Shore Community College