Long-Term Mitigation — EPA report on sea level rise in Hampton Roads VA

Similar to the need to anticipate repetitive riverine flooding is the need to think about sea level rise.  I did not realize that the second most risky place in the U.S. (the first is New Orleans) is the Hampton Roads area of VA.  The Washington Post, June 27, has an article about a recent EPA study on possible mitigation measures for that area. See A New Way of Thinking as Sea Levels Rise.

“…. earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published the first manual on how not to hold it back, arguing that costly seawalls and dikes eventually fail because sea-level rise is unstoppable. The federal Global Change Research Program estimates that the sea level will rise 14 to 17 inches in the next century around Hampton Roads.

The analysis, “Rolling Easements,” published on the EPA’s Web site, hopes “to get people on the path of not expecting to hold back the sea” as the warming climate is expected to melt ice around the globe, EPA researcher James G. Titus said.

Titus said state and local governments should start crafting laws and ordinances to limit development on vulnerable lands and encourage people living there to move inland. Reflecting the scale of the problem, the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission issued a report this month warning that 1 million residents would now be threatened by a Category 4 hurricane.

The EPA report said governments have three options to deal with sea-level rise: They can stay on the well-worn path of building expensive protection and raising streets and buildings. They can beat an organized retreat from the shore, perhaps by offering financial incentives to people and organizations to move inland. Or they can allow people to do whatever they want for their waterfront properties but tell them in no uncertain terms that they are on their own when the waters rise.

1 thought on “Long-Term Mitigation — EPA report on sea level rise in Hampton Roads VA

  1. It’s good that communities are starting to plan for adaptation to a changing climate. This is definitely a “whole community” issue, and not just the purview of emergency managers.

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