What Makes Up "King Tide" Flooding in Hampton Roads?

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The "King Tides" that we will map on November 5, 2017, are correctly called "Perigean-Spring Tides." These are the highest predicted tides of the year given the alignment of the moon, earth, and sun and happen with the fall full/new moons in SE Virginia (highest at least on paper - but more on that in a minute). We can predict these tides years ahead...as shown in the chart below.

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The tide chart shows our region's normal cycle of two high tides and two low tides a day. And each month we get higher high tides on the full and new moon, also called "spring tides," when the celestial bodies align as shown in the first picture above. However in the fall of each year are the yearly tide cycles that produce the "King Tides," when the celestial alignment occurs and the moon is closest to the earth - at Perigee.

The chart shows a relatively normal high tide in the red circle to the right and the highest perigean tide of the year on our target King Tide mapping day, November 5, in the circle on the left. The numbers are the height of the water above Mean Lower Low Water and, in the example above, the November 5 tide will in theory run about 10 inches higher than normal. With no wind, this would cause minor flooding in the lowest lying parts of our region.

But in our region, the wind plays a major part in our water levels, in addition to the daily, monthly, and yearly tides. Without going into too much geeky detail, we have a very rare shoreline with rivers that run south-to-north. [That shoreline is the southern rim of the largest meteor impact crater in the US, a big bang that happened 56 million years ago!) And these rivers are not white-water rivers with a lot of downhill flow - they are flat estuaries with flows that winds can push around. So, when we get a wind from the north, blowing into the mouths of the rivers, the water starts stacking up. Conversely, when we get a wind from the south, the water flows out into the Chesapeake Bay and our flooding is minimal (though with a south wind Back Bay will start flooding but that is another story).

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This means that on top of the daily, monthly, and yearly tide cycles we have to figure in the wind. Here's an example of how that works. In this Weather Underground screen shot from last October look at the line of arrows at the bottom, showing the wind speed and direction.

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Starting on October 8 (red circle), the wind shifted out of the N/NE at 20+ miles per hour and started pushing water upstream on our slow-flowing, north facing rivers. Even worse, it kept going for the next few days. This started to cause flooding - as shown in the chart below from the tide gauge at Sewells Point at Naval Station Norfolk. By high tide on the second morning, the tide was 4 feet above mean sea level.

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To paraphrase Burt in "Mary Poppins":

"Winds in the [nor]east, mist coming in, / Like somethin' is brewin' and bout to begin. / Can't put me finger on what lies in store, / But I fear what's to happen all happened before. "

Sure enough, this wind from the nor'east produced nuisance flooding across the region. In Norfolk, it looked like this on October 9.

Colonial Place gets wet (again) on Oct 9 on a sunny day.

Colonial Place gets wet (again) on Oct 9 on a sunny day.

Now we've also got the rain to figure in but we talked about that before.

Right now, for our Nov 5, 2017, King Tide Event, the wind looks to be shifting to the N/NE, meaning we'll probably have some water to measure, although we hope not as much as in the picture above.

Innovative Resilient Zoning Proposal in Norfolk

Wetlands Watch's land use guru, Ross Weaver, testifies in support of Norfolk's proposed Resilient Zoning proposal.

Wetlands Watch's land use guru, Ross Weaver, testifies in support of Norfolk's proposed Resilient Zoning proposal.

The city of Norfolk is much in the news with its flooding problems. It should also be much in the news about the solutions it is trying to put in place.

Three years ago, Norfolk began a comprehensive rewrite of its 25-year old zoning ordinance. The goal was to develop the most resilient set of city building rules in the country. With the first draft on the table, it seems they are on their way toward that goal. Most of the innovative proposals are contained in a scheme called the "Resilient Quotient," which requires builders to design their projects in a way to collect enough resilient points to get the permit. The bigger the project, the more points needed.

Features that score resilience points include: elevation above surrounding ground levels to provide flood safety, wiring the structure to accept solar/wind generation, using storm proof standards and materials, holding stormwater runoff on site, vegetation standards to provide shading and use native plants, renewable energy/energy efficiency/efficient energy transfer (geothermal, etc.), and a host of other options.

Builders and homeowners can pick and choose their points but they have to have enough total points to move forward. We have not seen anything like this elsewhere.

Seems like Norfolk is getting ready to walk the walk.

Regional Citizen Science Effort Grows - "Measure the Muck" Added

Measure the Muck logo

Measure the Muck logo

Snapshot: While we're out measuring the extent of the flooding, a team will also be measuring the pollution being washed off the land by that flooding.

Backstory: Southeast Virginia/Hampton Roads is embarking on one of the largest citizen science efforts ever with it's King Tide mapping event. Now, another effort has been added, "Measure the Muck."

This new effort is the brainchild of Dr. Margaret Mulolland of Old Dominion University, who does a lot of work on harmful algal blooms. She suspects that these flooding events bring a load of nutrients back to the rivers and bays, providing the fuel for algal blooms. Controlling this loading would help manage these algal blooms but no one has measured the amount of nutrients and bacteria being washed from the land.

So a group of volunteers will go out on Nov 5 with field kits for collecting water samples around stormwater outfalls that will later be tested (thanks to the Hampton Roads Sanitation District for providing the funding).

Wetlands Watch's interest in this (other than the fact that Dr. Mulholland is our executive director's wife!) is to explore the co-benefits of nature based solutions to stormwater and flood management. If the areas that flood are also significant sources of pollution, we can better target our efforts and use one dollar to fix two problems.


Oct 21 Sea Level Rise app test

Oct 21 Sea Level Rise app test

We've got some volunteers signed up for "Measure the Muck," 28 people so far. On a sunny Saturday, Oct. 21, a group of Old Dominion University students together with a bunch of Maury High School students tested the app in preparation for the stormwater pollution measurement citizen science effort.

Coming Down from the Hills to Study Sea Level Rise

David Imburgia from the City of Hampton speaks (and gestures!) to Virginia Tech students working to help on the City's resilience plan.

David Imburgia from the City of Hampton speaks (and gestures!) to Virginia Tech students working to help on the City's resilience plan.

Snapshot: University academic programs are starting to make a difference in adaptation work in Virginia through collaborative partnerships with local governments to solve pressing problems.

Backstory: A group of 28 Virginia Tech students (6 graduate and 22 senior undergrads) from a range of disciplines are working in the city of Hampton to help with their city-wide resilience planning. The effort is part of Wetlands Watch's collaborative resilience laboratory, or "Collaboratory," which seeks to partner Virginia's tidal communities with the State's academic institutions that offer community-based learning opportunities (practicums, capstone courses, place-based learning courses, etc.). The goal is to match need with opportunity to advance adaptation implementation in Virginia. Our major partner in this work is Virginia Sea Grant, which has seven university members in Virginia and is eager to help them find a role to play in addressing coastal Virginia's flooding problems.

The effort grew out of our successful work in the Chesterfield Heights neighborhood in Norfolk in which student teams from Old Dominion University (engineering) and Hampton University (architecture) joined forces using an award from Virginia Sea Grant to design an adaptation plan for that community. Subsequent work with the University of Virginia in the Ingleside neighborhood proved that this approach was useful for both the community and the university students. In both cases the student work resulted in significant implementation grants to the city of Norfolk and its partners.

The Virginia Tech team is led by Geography professor, Dr. Anamaria Bukvic, whose "Climate Change and Social Impact" class was looking for a location on which it could focus its efforts. Wetlands Watch knew of Hampton's work and the significant effort being expended to develop a resilience plan, so we contacted city staff and they quickly found a role for the students to play. Over the course of this semester they will assist in developing approaches for three different communities along Hampton's Chesapeake Bay shoreline.

Wetlands Watch and Virginia Sea Grant are seeking more of these collaborations over the next three years of funding for the Collaboratory. We are also seeking to export this model to other coastal regions.

Wetlands Watch's Work Recognized by Foundation

L-R: Joe Maroon, Executive Director, Virginia Environmental Endowment; Bob Ake, Board Chair, Wetlands Watch; Skip Stiles, Executive Director, Wetlands Watch; Blair Wimbush, Board Member, Virginia Environmental Endowment.

L-R: Joe Maroon, Executive Director, Virginia Environmental Endowment; Bob Ake, Board Chair, Wetlands Watch; Skip Stiles, Executive Director, Wetlands Watch; Blair Wimbush, Board Member, Virginia Environmental Endowment.

Wetlands Watch was recognized as one of 22 "Partners in Excellence" by the Virginia Environmental Endowment in ceremony at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, VA. As part of its 40th Anniversary, VEE recognized its recipient organizations that excelled in a category of activity. Wetlands Watch was one of two groups recognized in the category of "Emerging Issues" for our work on sea level rise and a program to train landscape professionals in the use of nature-based solutions to stormwater and flood management.

VEE was one of the first foundations to fund our sea level rise work, providing support for our study on the private insurance industry as we explored the linkages between insurance and climate change. VEE also provided supporting funding for the Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional program which is finishing its pilot phase and is 75% on its way to being self-supporting.

The award to Wetlands Watch read:

From its early beginnings as a watchdog on wetland losses in Hampton Roads to its current role as one of the state’s leading climate adaptation and resiliency advocates, Wetlands Watch is representative of small nonprofit organizations whose reputation, expertise, and influence continues to grow in Virginia and beyond. Recent VEE grants have supported its on-the-ground climate change work and its efforts to advance landscape conservation practices to deal with storm water runoff pollution and a Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional training and credentialing program.

Fall Storms Bring Flooding to SE Virginia

The impact of four feet of flooding on Hampton Boulevard, the major N/S road in west Norfolk. This is one of two roads leading Naval Station Norfok.

Jose and Maria are messing with Southeast Virginia. The video above is Hampton Boulevard in Norfolk, VA during the run up to the high tides on September 19, 2017, from Jose. On Sept 26 and 27 another set of high tides is hitting. At least these "modest" floods help us find all the areas that flood so we can put them on the map.

We are also in the midst of a major regional, crowdsource flood mapping effort around the hugest projected tide on November 5, 2017, the so-called "King Tide" of the year. We've been holding mapping trainings leading up to that event.

During the Jose floods I was out in the water doing some mapping. The images below show a flooded residential neighborhood in Norfolk (left) and the flood mapping I did (right) using the Sea Level Rise phone app. Walking the edge of the flooded zone, I dropped GIS pins every 4-5 feet and got an outline of the flooding., showing the extent of the inundation. The data set can be exported as an .xls or .csv file and transformed into a shape form on a map and used to test inundation models. All of this helps us project where the water will come next time we get +4' of water.

Vehicle Flood Loss Needs a Strategy

October 2, 2015 Nor'easter Catches Norfolk Motorist

October 2, 2015 Nor'easter Catches Norfolk Motorist

Nearly all the talk on flooding and mitigation involves real estate and property damage. Very rarely is the issue of vehicle damage and loss discussed in flood mitigation planning. Much of that is because there is are federal, state, and local programs dealing with real property flood losses. To be eligible for the federal government National Flood Insurance Program a locality has to have flood plain plans, ordinances, etc. but they mostly deal with real estate protection. Vehicles are privately insured so there is no requirement to develop comprehensive plans to prevent auto losses. However, Hurricane Harvey is showing the extent of those losses, highlighting the need to start dealing with them.

Vehicle losses are largely preventable because, unlike houses, you can move your car to higher ground - or the elevated public garages that most cities open as flood events approach. As long as you don't drive onto flooded sections of road - like the car above - you can protect your car.

Preventing vehicle loss, however, is more complicated and expensive than real estate flood protection. Road inundation information is not comprehensively reported nor is location of auto losses. (We are trying to deal with the road inundation mapping with our smart phone app.)

Elevating low-lying sections of road is expensive and paying for the work falls mostly on state and local government transportation budgets. There is no dedicated transportation flooding adaptation funding anywhere at the state or federal level, so this work competes with regular transportation maintenance projects. Federal funding to address these needs comes AFTER a flood event in the form of disaster relief.

The city of Norfolk, VA spent $1.2 million in 2010 raising one block to fix the flooding in one residential neighborhood. It spent $2.4 million raising a 200 yard stretch of a major downtown road 2 1/2 feet to prevent flooding. Luckily Norfolk has a plan, so that these projects fit into their larger adaptation puzzle. But no city has a comprehensive way of addressing vehicle losses due to flooding.

Auto flood losses are more widespread than house and business flooding, with nearly 50 % of households reporting flood loss citing auto damage/loss, according to a recent study done in Portsmouth, VA. And insurance companies are starting to notice. Just an anecdote but I recently heard from a person whose auto insurance company refused her renewal because her street address showed too many surrounding auto flood losses.

If we're going to get a handle on adaptation costs and needs, we need to start dealing with the auto damage and loss piece of the puzzle.

Landscape Professionals Clean up the Bay

 

Snapshot: "Nature-based" stormwater practices and conservation landscaping approaches often called "green infrastructure" are being installed throughout the Chesapeake Bay region to manage stormwater runoff, reduce pollution and flooding, and restore habitat. But we won't make much progress until we have a network of consistently trained and motivated sustainable landscape professionals who know how to properly design, build, and maintain these practices, particularly the small-scale practices being installed on private property. The Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional (CBLP) certification program aims to fill that void as they train and certify hundreds of landscape professionals in the Chesapeake Bay region.

The CBLP has moved from an idea, to a pilot program, to one that will soon have hundreds of certified professionals and be nearly self-supporting, all in just four years! Next step is to continue expanding the program in Maryland, DC, Virginia and Pennsylvania and moving into New York, Delaware, and West Virginia. For a personal account of the training experience, see EPA's Jim Edward's Blog.

Backstory: In 2013, Wetlands Watch produced a study looking at reducing stormwater nutrient pollution on private property. We explored model programs and looked at nature-based solutions on smaller lots and private property, wanting to see if: a) residential stewardship practices like rain gardens, permeable pavements, buffer plantings and conservation landscapes could play a significant role in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay using private property, and b) stormwater regulations could help drive wetlands and shoreline restoration efforts. In 2014, we partnered with statewide groups and regional experts to hold a two-day collaborative summit: "Protecting Water Quality Through Actions on Urban - Suburban Properties."

The most significant finding from this summit of stakeholders was the need to, "Build an effective and integrated network of powerful water quality and stormwater experts and advocates – or a 'Community of Practice'." If we were advocating for conservation landscaping and wanted "green" stormwater practices on private property to be "counted" in the stormwater regulatory system, we needed professionals able to meet the demand we were creating and overcome the barriers to use and acceptance of these practices. At the end of the summit, we joined forces with several other partners to create a plan and fund our effort to develop a community of practice among landscape professionals.

Our collaboration includes experts and partners in Maryland and Virginia: Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VA DGIF) Habitat Partners©, Maryland Cooperative Extension, Maryland Sea Grant, and Wetlands Watch. Our plan: to develop and pilot a financially sustainable, Bay-wide training and certification program and network of consistently trained landscape professionals ready and eager to be better conservation, habitat, and stormwater partners.

Initially funded with grants and matching funds from the Campbell Foundation for the Environment, the Virginia Environmental Endowment, Prince Charitable Trust, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Maryland Sea Grant, VA DGIF, and the District Department of Energy and Environment, the CBLP program is approximately 75% self-funded through fees charged for the training and certification. As we build the CBLP "brand" we want to see the certifications create a market preference for CBLP services and further increase demand for sustainable landscapes and nature-based solutions to our stormwater and flooding problems.

See Jim Edward's blog of his experience with the CBLP training here.

Regional Flood Mapping Event Uses "Sea Level Rise" Phone App

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Snapshot: This fall, Hampton Roads will be holding the country's first major flood mapping exercise with commercial media partners. The Wetlands Watch Phone app, Sea Level Rise, will be the tool used in this November 5, 2017, event which we hope to map across the entire SE Virginia region.

Backstory: Every fall, we get higher full and new moon tides - as much as 2 feet higher - because the moon is closer to the earth. These Perigean High Tides are often nicknamed "King Tides" and in low lying regions like ours they cause increased nuisance flooding.

This year, the highest tide happens on November 5, 2017, and we have a unique event planned for that day: a first-ever public, regional flood mapping event using our Sea Level Rise flooding app.  Making this event even more unique is its sponsorship by our two regional newspapers - the Virginian Pilot and the Daily Press - as well as our regional NPR station, WHRO, and a regional commercial TV station, WVEC.

The Sea Level Rise app was developed using a blue moon fund grant in 2014, in partnership with Concursive, a Norfolk-based technology company. The app was further refined with the help of the Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve in New Jersey who supported the development of V 2.0.. 

The two images above preview what can be produced. The image to the left above displays an outline of the flooding we experienced during the September, 2015 King Tide. The mapping was done with our phone app. The app data was exported to our friends at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) to help them with their flooding models. Dr. Derek Loftis at VIMS has been collaborating with us on this work.

The image to the right above shows those same 2015 data points that Dr. Loftis laid on top of a VIMS map showing the expected inundation on November 5, 2017, the highest high tide of 2017. These VIMS maps will help us target our volunteers to map that day. We hope to cover all the cities and counties that make up Hampton Roads.

You can get the full map and storyboard from VIMS/Dr.Loftis HERE.

Stay tuned for more updates - we started with a soft launch on August 14, test events will be held through Sept and Oct, leading up to the November 5 event. For more information from the Virginian Pilot, their event website has info and signup forms.

 

 

Sunny Day Flooding - More and More of it

On July 30, 2017, we had a high tide caused by wind from the N/NE. The wind pushed the water about 4.5 feet above mean sea level and unfortunately that is all it takes here in Norfolk, on low-lying streets, to cause flooding. The stretch of road in the video below is Llewellyn Ave. It is known to flood all the time, such frequent flooding that the city has installed "rulers" alongside the road to let you know how deep the water is. Such frequent flooding that the plants in the foreground are wetlands plants.

This was a wetland 100 years ago, was filled in, and now it wants to be - is actually becoming - a wetland again. No wonder when we ask people at public meetings, "How many of you have driven through salt water on the roads in the last year?", most of the hands go up.

The pictures below were taken that same sunny day as I wandered around the city of Norfolk to record the nuisance flooding these events bring. Again, not storms, just wind at the wrong time of the tide cycle...and we get water running onto the street

Climate Change = Intense Rain = More Pollution

Yesterday (July 18, 2017) we had one of those intense rain events we're seeing with increased frequency. My rooftop rain gauge measured 1.8" of rain in two hours. I was out picking up my daughter at track practice when it hit and got stranded - see windshield shot as I was stopped in a flooded intersection. Last week we had another ~2" rain event.

This morning walking my dog, there was sediment in the streets everywhere. It washed into the Elizabeth and Lafayette Rivers here in Norfolk and was like dumping bags of fertilizer into the rivers. My wife, Dr. Margaret Mulholland, is a biological oceanographer studying algal blooms and she said they are already seeing harmful algal blooms due to last week's deluge...yesterday's "rain bomb" will only add to it.

So going forward we need to add climate change/rain intensity to our stormwater management plans. We get ~60" of rain a year here in Norfolk. If we get 120, 1/2" rain events, no problem, the existing stormwater management systems can handle it. We get 30, 2" rain events, the pollution wins.

This increasing intensity was studied by Peter Popmmerenk who is a planner with the City of Virginia Beach's Stormwater Department. He went to the weather record at Norfolk International Airport and...sure enough, he found an increase in 2" rain events since 1950....measured, not projected from someone's model. The relevant diagram is below - click on the image for his full paper.

 

Just another part of the challenge with flooding/stormwater.

 

Another Neighborhood Adaptation Design - With Stormwater Managment Included!

We've been working in partnership with academia to start putting together adaptation approaches on a community-scale. We found in our past work that "big picture" adaptation efforts don't work unless they are "fitted" into the community. So we got together with a University of Virginia resilience capstone class and the Elizabeth River Project to work in the Igleside Neighborhood of Norfolk, VA to see how we might control flooding AND stormwater pollution.

The final report is out for this semester-long collaboration. We have submitted a grant proposal to fund the work outlined by the students and also are partnering with the Elizabeth River Project to do adaptation designs on other neighborhoods along the Broad Creek tributary in Norfolk.

On to other projects for our collaborative sea level rise adaptation laboratory - or "Collaboratory" that we are running in partnership with Virginia Sea Grant.

Finanical Sector Takes Coastal Risks Seriously.....NOT!

Waves break around a destroyed roller coaster in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, on Nov. 16, 2012. Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Waves break around a destroyed roller coaster in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, on Nov. 16, 2012. Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty Images

An interesting article from Bloomberg about the reality in the finance sector regarding their perception of risk from sea level rise. We hear lots about the insurance and bond underwriting sectors taking these risks seriously. We hear people say that the financial sector will begin to withdraw from risky coastal regions.

The reality..?

From the article: " When asked by Bloomberg, none of the big three bond raters could cite an example of climate risk affecting the rating of a city’s bonds."

And the sea level rise risk on the Jersey Shore, recently decimated by "superstorm" Sandy? -  "'It didn’t come up, which says to me they’re not concerned about it,' says John Bartlett, the Ocean County representative who negotiated with the rating companies. Both gave the bonds a perfect triple-A rating."

Coastal Communities Hook Up to Address Sea Level Rise

Charleston, SC Mayor John Tecklenburg came to the Hampton Roads/Charleston knowledge exchange Friday, June 16, in Charleston to urge action on flooding and Sea Level Rise. The exchange was set up by theCharleston Resilience Network to have the two flood-prone regions share ideas and approaches to deal with the nuisance flooding and sea level rise impacts.

Supported by the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Applications (CISA) program (funded by NOAA), the meeting was the start of what the participants hoped would be a continuing exchange that could expand to include other coastal communities at risk.

Wetlands Watch was proud to have been included to speak to the role of nonprofit partners in the adaptation process. Thank you Charleston, thanks to the Charleston Resilience Network and to CISA and NOAA. This will make our work much more productive if we can share successes and approaches.

Adaptation Guide Wins Planning Award!

Our work on sea level rise adaptation in Virginia has us working closely with local governments, since they are the only people who can determine the use/development of shoreline private property. In the absence of state and local leadership on adaptation, shoreline communities are left on their own to figure out what to do and to determine if they have the authority to do it.

In this vacuum, clever local staff are doing some creative things and coming up with "workarounds" on existing legal authorities. Wetlands Watch wanted to put this in one place and make it available to everyone in tidewater Virginia: possible adaptation authorities, examples of clever "workarounds," flood insurance cost consequences, etc. We interviewed over 70 local government staff in the process, to find out what they needed/wanted and in what format.

What resulted was our "Sea Level Rise Adaptation Guide" which we finished a few months ago and have been promoting on line and in person. We thought it was pretty neat but that was really affirmed when we found out the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association had selected the Guide for its 2017 Nelsonite Award, Planning Advocate of the Year.

We contiue to update and revise the guide - newest effort is adding stormwater regulatory credit information for nature-based solutions, with final products due late 2017.

 

Even If You Pay Them to Go, They'll Stay At the Shore

$23 million Steel Wall in NJ (Katrina d'Autremont-Bloomberg)

$23 million Steel Wall in NJ (Katrina d'Autremont-Bloomberg)

Very interesting article about how the post-Sandy fund designed to buy people out in vulnerable areas is not working. More emphasis on armoring and staying in place instead. This is disturbing since efforts are being made to generate funding - such as Virginia's Shoreline Resiliency Fund - but these funds may not do what we want if folks don't want to move.

Flood Insurance Changes - Great Article on Impacts

Adaptation Choices in Norfolk (l to r) - raise, wait, rebuild (photo NYT - Benjamin Lowy)

Adaptation Choices in Norfolk (l to r) - raise, wait, rebuild (photo NYT - Benjamin Lowy)

New York Times Magazine takes a look at the issue of flood insurance and its impacts, implications, and responses in Norfolk, VA. Great article by Brooke Jarvis - makes a complicated issue understandable and human.

This is just the start of the changes in coastal communities as risk - both present and future risk - gets priced into the economy. Resilience now means more than dealing with physical protection and environmental improvement. We have to deal with the economic consequences of the changes that we are seeing if we are to really become resilient.

More Action on Alternative Coastal Funding

With all the talk of budget cuts in Washington, including cuts to FEMA disaster programs, states and localities along the shore need to find new ways of dealing with essential flooding fixes. We documented the need for new revenue streams a few years ago in our report on the backlog in flooding mitigation funding. We found that in one Virginia city, if you were at ten end of the waiting list, you'd wait 188 years for someone to get around to helping you fix your house.

We worked with State Senator Lynwood Lewis who sponsored legislation to create a state revolving loan fund for property owners to use. It was patterned after a similar fund in Connecticut, ShoreUP CT. The Virginia Shoreline Resiliency Fund became law in 2016 but there was no funding made available. Next step is to get funding for the revolving loan fund.

Now another state - Rhode Island - is considering this approach to funding coastal protection. Legislation introduced there would create the "Rhode Island Coastal Adaptation Trust Fund," to provide money to fix coastal infrastructure at risk from sea level rise and flooding. That Fund would get money from a 5 cent/barrel surcharge on petroleum products.

We will be watching that legislation in coming months as all of us along America's coastline struggle to adapt.

San Francisco Resilient by Design Challenge

The San Francisco Bay area climate change adaptation effort is getting a big boost thanks to a $4.6 million Rockefeller Foundation grant underwriting a design competition: Resilient By Design: Bay Area Challenge. This work follows on a 2009 design effort in the region, Rising Tides, which was the inspiration for Wetlands Watch's adaptation design efforts.

This could be a great step forward, coming as it does before the problem gets acute. We in other soggy regions will be watching this design work with interest.

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Building Public Investments to Last

In 2015, President Obama proposed a new Federal Flood Risk Standard for federal infrastructure investments and other major federal actions. The proposal was to add an additional margin of safety to these federal actions - from the current protection against a flood event with a 1% chance of happening (100-year flood), to protections against stronger storms floods that have only a .2% chance of happening (500-year flood event).

The proposal also allowed agencies to use a climate-based standard, so if local or regional projections were for greater flooding/storm intensity/sea level rise, you could add additional protections. But at a minimum, the 500-year event was the safety level used.

The standard is now under review by the new administration and many of us who support the higher standard are pushing to keep it in place. With plans for a major federal infrastructure push early in this Administration, it is more important than ever that this proposal be kept.