Governor Releases Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plan, Database Documenting Impact of Coastal Flood Risks

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) – Virginia Governor Ralph Northam released the Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plan, which gives a roadmap to protect the coastline of the state.

The Virginia coast faces current and future challenges with rising sea levels and increasing flooding from storms.

“We need to recognize that climate change is permanently altering the physical boundaries of our coastal lands,” Northam said in a press release Tuesday. “The only way we can adapt and keep our communities thriving is through thoughtful planning, relying on science and being prepared to make tough decisions. This master plan will guide the decisions of the Commonwealth and our local government partners.

The Coastal Resilience Master Plan was a joint effort between the state and 2,000 stakeholders. The plan covers which lands are at risk now and in the future, and details how future flood hazards could impact community resources and man-made and natural infrastructure.

The Coastal Resilience Database and Web Explorer are publicly available. The database shows the impact of coastal flood risks, current and proposed resilience projects, as well as sources of funding.

According to the master plan, between 2020 and 2080:

  • the number of residents in homes exposed to extreme coastal flooding is expected to increase by 160%, from about 360,000 to 943,000;
  • the number of residential, public and commercial buildings exposed to extreme coastal flooding is expected to increase by almost 150%, from 140,000 to 340,000. Annualized flood damage could increase by 1,300%, from 0.4 to $ 5.1 billion;
  • the number of kilometers of roads exposed to chronic coastal flooding is expected to increase from 1,000 to almost 3,800 miles, an increase of almost 280%; and
  • about 170,000 acres, or 89%, of existing intertidal wetlands and 3,800 acres, or 38%, of existing dunes and beaches could be permanently lost to open water.

“The master plan recognizes that flooding affects many Virginians, but does not do it in the same way. This initial effort highlighted many unmet needs in underserved communities, ”said Natural and Historic Resources Secretary and Resilience Officer Ann Jennings. “By working closely with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, DCR will continue its outreach and engagement activities for these communities in the future. “

The plan will be updated over at least a five-year cycle, the governor’s office said. Updates will be managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation in consultation with the Resilience Officer, the Governor’s Special Assistant for Coastal Adaptation and Protection, and the Technical Advisory Committee.

An overview of Virginia’s Coastal Resilience Master Plan can be found here. The governor’s letter for the master plan can be found here.

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