CRS adaptation

Wetlands Watch Summary of Adaptation Data Needs and Funding Sources

 
What Virginia Localities Need to Deal with Flooding

What Virginia Localities Need to Deal with Flooding

 

Snapshot: We hear from a lot professionals and government decision makers about what kinds of information and data they need in order to start implementing flood management/sea level rise adaptation measures. We also hear lots of ways we might find funding to start this work. We pulled this information together in one place to accelerate implementation.

Backstory: As Virginia’s coastal communities move from studies and plans about flooding to putting those ideas into action, they are starting to find data gaps and needs that are impeding progress. Floodplain managers, local government planners, adaptation decision makers, and others along our shorelines began talking about these issues a while ago and there was a clear need to develop a comprehensive list of these data needs. With this list we could fashion a strategic approach to start ticking needed items off and also help set priorities for the new Virginia initiatives being proposed. But to be effective, any list had to come from comprehensive interviews with the stakeholders.

The report is organized by category (data needed for planning, data needed for stormwater, etc.) and each data need also indicates which stakeholder reported the data need to enable users to connect with others sharing those suggestions. By listing the points of contatct for each organization in the back of the report we hope to facilitate this networking.

As our shorline communities move to implementation, funding quickly becomes an issue. There is a similar need to develop a comprehensive list of potential funding sources for this flood management/sea level rise adaptation work.

Virginia’s Coastal Zone Management Program saw these information needs as well and asked Wetlands Watch to conduct a review of critical data needs that had to be addressed, as well as a review of potential funding sources that could support implementation of projects along Virginia’s coastline. This recent study pulls that information together.

This work needs to be done all along our coastline, so that we can begin to share resources and find ways to address the data gaps and maybe, just maybe, start pulling together the funding to implement solutions.

Wetlands Watch Study Shows Positive Benefit for CRS Work

We've been working hard to promote the Community Rating System (CRS) along Virginia's tidal floodplains. A program of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), CRS rewards localities that take extra steps to flood-proof their communities by reducing the premiums charged for flood insurance. What gets Wetlands Watch excited is some of the greatest rewards come from preserving opens space in flood plains, open space that has wetlands on it and will offer "retreat" zones for wetlands as sea levels rise.

The problem is that getting into the CRS requires a fair amount of staff work and training in what is a fairly complicated program. These up-front barriers are often cited as reasons that more localities do not participate in the program - only 9% of Virginia localities participate. We know that over time the benefits from participaing in the CRS program are large, but we had not been able to prove it.

Now we can, thanks to the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program that gave us a grant to figure out the costs and benefits of being a part of the CRS. We just finished a report that shows the benefits of being part of the CRS far outweigh the costs of participating.

Working Into the Night, Miles from Home, on Flooding Fixes

Presentation in Gloucester County

Presentation in Gloucester County

Wetlands Watch found out years ago that implementing sea level rise and flooding adaptation was a retail operation - working one-on-one with local governments, talking to small groups of citizen stakeholders, like those in attendance at a public meeting in Gloucester County (pictured above), and helping make the changes needed to promote resilience in at-risk communities.

March 1, 2017, found our staffer, Mary-Carson Stiff, working into the evening, 50 miles from home, meeting with folks in Gloucester, VA to explain flood insurance and the Community Rating System (CRS). Organized by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the state agency that manages the floodplain programs in Virginia, the workshop "CRS Benefits & Flood Insurance Rate Reductions" drew a crowd of 30 interested citizens and local government staff from the Middle Peninsula on a stormy work week evening. DCR, Wetlands Watch, and Gloucester County's floodplain management program and citizen-lead Floodplain Management Committee presented to the group. The meeting celebrated Gloucester County's improved CRS class rating of 6, earning policyholders 20% premium reductions each year. If you'd like a copy of the presentations, email mc.stiff@wetlandswatch.org

Wetlands Watch's Mary-Carson, or "M-C" as she is known, is a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM), an expert on FEMA programs, Chair of the Coastal VA CRS Workgroup, and serves on the Board of the Virginia Floodplain Managers Association (VFMA). A graduate of William & Mary Law School and in the first class of the Virginia Coastal Policy Center, she leads our organization's Floodplain Management Program, notably promoting reforms of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to incentivize open space protection and habitat creation in localities' floodplains.  

When we discovered that the CRS program rewards higher levels of flood protection by reducing the cost of flood insurance, we started to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and DCR to expand the CRS program in coastal Virginia.

First we developed a local government guide to the CRS. Then we started meeting with local governments and their citizens to gain support for the CRS and for the green infrastructure approaches we want - wetlands & open space in the floodplains earn the largest reductions in premiums. We work in the CRS program because it saves money and shorelines in our communities. 

Thanks to our supporters at the blue moon fund, Campbell Foundation, West Wind, and others, we are able to work with local governments and their constituents as they tackle this complicated FEMA program, walking obscure regulatory language into the real world decisions facing coastal communities.

Flood Protection, Environmental Quality, and Fiscal Savings - How to Get Them All in Your Community

Flood Levels Recorded and House Elevated Above Them in Background

Flood Levels Recorded and House Elevated Above Them in Background

We just released a new study on how communities can take extra steps to deal with flooding/sea level rise, reduce their flood insurance costs, and - just maybe - increase open space and shoreline habitat!

Wetlands Watch is always looking for leverage to increase shoreline resiliency. Sea Level Rise is taking its toll and we need every tool we have to keep ahead.

With premiums increasing for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) we looked for ways to help communities support flood proofing and habitat protection at the same time. The NFIP rewards communities for taking flood protection steps above the minimum - uses the Community Rating System to evaluate floodproofing and award points toward reduced premium costs.

Trouble is the CRS evaluation is hard to map onto the wide range of options and actions that local governments take - so we did the research and produced this study. We also took a special look at environmental solutions to the flooding problems - don't want to just put up concrete walls. AND we looked at how local governments can take credit for NFIP premium reductions for things they are doing to reduce storm water pollution.