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HRPDC Participates in Virginia Beach Hosted Sea Level Rise Listening Sessions

HRPDC Participates in Virginia Beach Hosted Sea Level Rise Listening Sessions

By Ben McFarlane

Physical & Envrionmental Planner


The city of Virginia Beach hosted four listening sessions for residents to discuss the issues posed by sea level rise and flooding. The meetings were held March 30th and 31st at four locations in Virginia Beach: the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, Red Mill Elementary School, the Meyera Oberndorf Central Library, and Bayside Recreation Center.

The four listening sessions included presentations from Wetlands Watch, the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC), and the city of Virginia Beach Environment and Sustainability Office (ESO). Skip Stiles, Executive Director of Wetlands Watch, described the process of sea level rise and how it is affecting Virginia Beach. Ben McFarlane, a Regional Planner for the HRPDC, gave a presentation on HRPDC’s regional climate change and sea level rise planning and research efforts. Clay Bernick, Administrator for the Virginia Beach ESO, concluded the presentations by describing how the city of Virginia Beach is addressing sea level rise and outlining the City’s sustainability planning efforts.

Staff and volunteers from the UVA Institute for Environmental Negotiation, Wetlands Watch, the city of Virginia Beach, and the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission facilitated small group discussions to help citizens understand the issues and identify which parts of the city were being affected by sea level rise and flooding. These small group discussions allowed residents to share their personal experiences with sea level rise and flooding in all parts of the City. The residents also were able to point out the impacts of sea level rise and flooding (such as erosion, stormwater overflows, etc.) on maps. Residents were also given an opportunity to make suggestions for distributing information to City residents on sea level rise and flooding, as well as for the City’s Sustainability Plan. Preliminary findings from the sessions will be presented to the Virginia Beach City Council at its meeting on April 19, 2011, and a final report will be released by IEN later this year. The report will be available on the IEN website at http://www.virginia.edu/ien/sealevelrise/index.html.

Sea Level

Sea Level

The area depicted in the shades of red are potentially vulnerable to sea level rise.

Photo by Skip Stiles

A lively discussion about sea level rise during one of the listening sessions.

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