Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Cooper along with federal, state and local officials have broken ground on the Ohio Creek Watershed Project in Norfolk, Virginia.

The Ohio Creek Watershed project will feature two residential communities and will address the impact of sea-level rise in Hampton Roads.

The two neighbourhoods include Chesterfield Heights and Grandy Village. Chesterfield Heights features more than 400 houses while Grandy Village includes over 300 homes.

The project will include the construction of a new park, called Resilience Park, connecting Grandy Village and Chesterfield Heights neighbourhoods.

The new park will consist of a flood berm, a restored tidal creek and a wetland along with multi-use sports field and places for community gatherings and recreation.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said: “Our climate is changing, and it is affecting our coastal areas with more intense hurricanes and storms and more frequent tidal flooding.

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“The Ohio Creek Watershed project is an example of the kind of work we need to do to protect lives, property, and economic opportunity in Hampton Roads, and the innovation that will help us build a safer, more sustainable, and resilient Virginia for future generations.”

Nearly $112m will be used to design a resilient coastal community to combat the increasing risk of flooding. The Ohio Creek Watershed project will invest in a pump station, tide gates, road improvements, pervious pavement and other water retention strategies to improve the stormwater system in the city.

The project could help in restoring natural wetlands and create a coastal berm and natural living shorelines to increase the effectiveness of structural flood control.

The green spaces at the park are expected to hold absorb flood waters, filter pollutants and offer natural walking trails connecting neighbourhoods.

In 2016, Virginia secured $120.5m from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) National Disaster Resilience Competition for innovative solutions to prevent the sea-level rise in Hampton Roads.

In the last three years, Norfolk worked with stakeholders, partners and affected communities to design and develop a plan for the project.

HUD had allocated $5.25m of the $120.5m award to support the development of a resilience innovation hub called RISE, a non-profit that offers businesses with resources to develop resilience building solutions for coastal communities.


Image: Ground broken on watershed project in Virginia. (Credit: Pixabay/Hans Braxmeier.)