Major Flooding Across Chesapeake Bay Watershed Highlights Need for Lasting Solutions From MD and VA Legislators

Today, communities across the Chesapeake Bay watershed are experiencing severe coastal flooding. Strong onshore flow, mixed with heavy rainfall and high winds, is resulting in significant flooding and erosion along the coast, streams, and creeks in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. School delays and road closures have followed. 

We must take action to protect people, homes, businesses, and livelihoods from severe storms. Extreme flooding demonstrates the need for long-term sustainable solutions for tidal flooding across the Bay watershed, including strategic initiatives like increasing resiliency funding for flood preparedness and implementing living shorelines and stormwater volume controls wherever possible. 

Natural solutions like living shorelines, which consist of native wetland plants, grasses, shrubs, and trees along the tidal water line, allow water to slowly, naturally rise and mitigate intense flooding events.

Reducing impervious surfaces directly inland from the shoreline reduces the amount of runoff the shoreline must absorb, store, and treat, which alleviates floodwaters and protects critical infrastructure until the tide goes down.

General Assembly sessions in both Maryland and Virginia begin this week. Legislation is expected to be introduced in both states regarding flooding concerns—specifically regarding living shorelines in Maryland and an overhaul of Maryland’s Critical Area Program to better incorporate climate preparedness. Resiliency funding is being considered in Virginia, including investment in the Community Flood Preparedness Fund. 

Allison Colden, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Maryland Executive Director said in a statement:

“This event exposes the fallacy that floodwalls are a solution to sea level rise. We can't pave our way out of flooding. Once waters rise over a floodwall or hard barrier, everything behind it becomes flooded. The magnitude of tidal flooding we’re seeing will overwhelm stormwater systems in low lying areas and prevent any rainfall from draining for several hours. 

“Climate change is leading to more frequent severe storms. Our new flooding reality should make us question existing mitigation plans that rely heavily on seawalls and bulkheads. 

“These are not sustainable solutions that will last against climate change and sea level rise in the long-term. Prioritizing living shorelines, planting trees, and removing excess impervious surfaces are proven and future-thinking approaches to protecting communities from flooding and sea level rise.”

Chris Moore, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Virginia Executive Director said in a statement: 

“Today’s weather underscores the need for permanent investment to ensure Virginia’s resilience against sea level rise and climate change. In this upcoming legislative session, lawmakers should invest in the Community Flood Preparedness Fund, ensuring support for community-scale and nature-based projects already underway across the state.”

“Hampton Roads has the highest rate of sea level rise on the East Coast, but Tuesday’s weather demonstrates how climate change is affecting communities, schools, and businesses across Virginia. This severe flooding comes on the eve of the start of the Virginia General Assembly, and continuing to protect Virginians from these flooding events in the long-term with dedicated funding should be a priority for legislators.”

“The impacts of today’s weather show that climate change is only becoming a more and more pressing issue. It is critical Virginia rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and important for Virginia lawmakers to dedicate funding to the Community Flood Preparedness Fund, which prioritizes nature-based, sustainable resiliency solutions.” 


Valerie Keefer

Maryland Communications & Media Relations Manager, CBF

[email protected]


Vanessa Remmers

Virginia Communications & Media Relations Manager, CBF

[email protected]

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