Dewberry led the development of master plan aimed at mitigating impacts of climate change.

In December, the Commonwealth of Virginia announced the completion of its first phase of the inaugural Coastal Resilience Master Plan, which provides a framework to identify and evaluate viable strategies for resilience that are practical and equitable.

Dewberry, a privately held professional services firm, led the development of the master plan under a $2.6-million contract. As part of the master plan, the firm developed a technical study, which assessed and mapped changing hazards and impacts to increasing coastal flooding for present-day and future conditions. The plan also compiled capacity building needs, ongoing efforts, and funding mechanisms to address resilience needs across Virginia’s coast. Additionally, Dewberry supported the study’s technical advisory committee, which facilitated coordination across key stakeholders and incorporated key subject matter knowledge, data, and methods into the master plan; and facilitated stakeholder engagement, which captured diverse resilience perspectives from residents, local and regional officials, and other stakeholders to prioritize regionally specific resilience opportunities. The body of work is presented in the Virginia Coastal Master Plan, Phase 1 document, produced by Dewberry.

As a result of the first phase of the master plan, Virginia has determined current and future land exposure to coastal flooding hazards and identified and anticipated changes in future coastal flood frequency across the Commonwealth, estimated impacts to community resources and natural infrastructure, identified areas with high social vulnerability and coastal flood hazard exposure, conducted stakeholder workshops, established an inventory of locally driven coastal resilience projects that address regional needs, developed a data-driven approach to evaluate and prioritize projects, established an inventory of grant and loan programs, created the Coastal Resilience Web Explorer and Database, developed capacity-building and planning initiatives, and initiated a public planning process.

“Throughout the process of conducting this study and creating the master plan, we have learned much about the challenges ahead for Virginia – the magnitude of the exposure in our state reiterates the critical nature of this plan and actions,” says Dewberry Project Manager and Senior Coastal Scientist Brian Batten, Ph.D., CFM. “For example, the area vulnerable to chronic coastal flooding is projected to grow by over 100 square miles in the next 20 years. This will expose an additional 25,000 residential properties to potential repetitive flooding, an estimated increase of 130% from present day conditions. More than 2,000 commercial and industrial facilities, critical to the local and regional economy, will also see this same increase in flood risk. Overall increases to flood risk from a wider range of conditions, such as major, but less frequent flood events are much higher. This is why developing the plan and determining practical solutions for mitigating the impacts of climate change and making coastal Virginia a more resilient area is critical.”

Managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation in consultation with the Technical Advisory Committee, the plan is expected to receive successive updates on a five-year cycle. Phase two of the master plan is expected to be complete by the end of 2024.

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