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Water Resources

Policy Guidance

Regional Sea Level Rise Policy

On October 18, 2018, the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission approved and adopted a resolution encouraging local governments within the region to consider adopting policies that incorporate sea level rise into planning and engineering decisions. The approved Sea Level Rise Planning Policy and Approach recommends the following relative sea level rise scenarios:

  • 1.5 ft above current mean higher high water (MHHW) for near-term (2018-2050)
  • 3 ft above current mean higher high water (MHHW) for mid-term (2050-2080)
  • 4.5 ft above current mean higher high water (MHHW) for long-term (2080-2100)

The document also recommends selecting sea level rise curves and designs based on the risk tolerance and costs associated with individual projects. HRPDC staff is working to develop more specific implementation recommendations for categories of projects and policies.


Line graph depicting projected sea level change at Sewells Point 2000-2100

2020 HRPDC Resiliency Legislative Priorities

HRPDC Staff support resilience planning efforts by providing policy guidance and recommendations at multiple scales. The HRPDC 2020 Regional Legislative Priorities include several actions related to coastal resiliency planning:

  • Request State funding that can be used by local governments as local match to participate in Federal funding programs.
  • Request that the Commonwealth create a State Resiliency Assistance Fund.
  • Request State or Federal funding to create regional planning capacity around resiliency issues.
  • Request that the State provide resources to support the Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plan.
  • Support Federal/State funding for recurrent flooding/sea level rise projects in Hampton Roads.
  • Advocate for policy changes to federal resilience programs that assist localities in their local efforts to address resiliency issues.
  • Consider a special assessment to support a professional advocate to represent the region on federal coastal resiliency policy issues. (Estimated Year 1 Costs: $50,000)

The previous HRPDC 2019 Legislative Agenda items related to resiliency are available here.


HRPDC Report:

Integrating Coastal Resilience Into Local Plans, Policies, and Ordinances (2017):
HRPDC Staff documented best practices for localities to incorporate coastal resilience into their planning documents. This report provides an assessment of coastal resilience in current local plans and policies and highlights case studies of coastal resilience policy initiatives in Virginia, Florida, and South Carolina.