Aug 15, 2017

Norfolk, Va., Enhances Flood Protection

Arcadis signs $11.6 million contract with city to design storm water infrastructure

Arcadis signs contract with Norfolk, Va.

Image courtesy of Arcadis. 

Arcadis, a global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets, has been awarded an approximate $11.6 million contract by the City of Norfolk, Va., to design storm water infrastructure enhancements to protect Ohio Creek communities against future flooding and continued sea level rise.

Ohio Creek residents are regularly faced with flooding due to an outdated and undersized stormwater system unable to handle heavy loads during major storms. When major rain storms occur at high tide, the Elizabeth River spills into the storm water drainage system and prevents rainfall from draining away from neighborhoods. This results in flooded streets and sidewalks, and at times, submerged roadways that cut off access to the neighborhood.

The city received a $115 million grant to transform the Ohio Creek Watershed. The grant follows a winning application to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for funding through its $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition. The city’s Office of Resilience selected Arcadis to design water management solutions that integrate into the urban fabric of the community, which may include the following:

  • Developing a heightened shoreline protection system to prevent high river waters from spilling into neighborhoods and flowing into the storm water system;
  • Minimizing shoreline erosion by creating a living shoreline, using rock breakwater and vegetation to decrease wave energy during coastal flooding events while providing ecological habitat and recreational use, such as fishing;
  • Raising several roadways to ensure access to the neighborhood during storms and to keep approximately 450 homes out of the path of flood waters; and
  • Capturing and storing of rainfall via residential rain barrels and rain gardens to slow its flow to the storm water system and subsequently reduce drainage system overflow and flooding.

“The city selected Arcadis not only because it’s staffed with experts who understand the unique nature of our flooding challenges and bring innovative and sustainable ideas to the table, but because they believe in what we are trying to accomplish—a resilient coastal community for the future,” said Scott Smith, coastal resiliency manager for the City of Norfolk. “Our aligned vision and people-focused goals aim to develop a thriving, historic waterfront community that doesn’t just adapt to the risk of rising sea levels and changing climates, but learns to live with water for an improved quality of life.”

A key element of the Arcadis resiliency planning approach is to blend the storm water infrastructure into the aesthetics and landscape of the community while increasing resilience to future flooding. Throughout the design phase, solutions will be introduced to manage excess storm water rather than have it enter the drainage system, such as rain gardens, rain barrels, permeable pavements that soak up the water, and increased storm water retention areas such as wetland habitats to naturally store storm water.  

“The City of Norfolk is leading the charge to define innovative resiliency and adaptation by reinventing themselves as the model coastal city of the future,” said Arcadis Water President John McCarthy. “By applying our leading-edge techniques for water management, landscape architecture, flood protection and urban design, Arcadis is playing a key role in making this aspiration a reality.”

The Arcadis-led design phase of the project will run through December 2018 with construction activities scheduled to begin in March 2019.