VA - In Virginia, Sea-Level Rise and Flooding Prompt New Strategy

Resilience framework will prioritize regional coordination and nature-based solutions to aid vulnerable communities

As sea levels continue to rise along the Atlantic coast, Virginia is projected to experience almost 5 feet of increase by 2080, submerging an additional 649 square miles of land, according to state estimates.

To address this growing threat to shoreline communities, officials in Virginia will promote science-based, cross-jurisdictional collaboration to mitigate flooding and increase communities’ resilience, according to the state’s Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework, which was released Oct. 22. The framework lays out guiding principles and objectives for the development of a coast-wide master plan to protect and sustain the diverse coastal communities in the Commonwealth. The plan’s ambitious goal is to identify priority projects for flood mitigation over the course of the next year, including those that use nature-based solutions—such as wetlands restoration, oyster reef creation, and coastal dune protection—to help absorb some of the impact of severe storms and encroaching tides.

Communities benefit from regional planning

One of the key principles of the framework is regional collaboration and priority-setting to address flooding, which can deliver broad benefits. For example, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC), a council of local governments, created a work group to assess climate change impacts on infrastructure and the natural environment.

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