Resilient Stormwater Pump Station Systems in Virginia Beach

Glenn Bottomley, PE, Fellow ASCE, Virginia Water Business Lead, WSP USA, Inc.

Brad Vanderwarker, PE, Project Manager, Virginia Beach Public Works Stormwater

The frequency and severity of storms in the Virginia Beach area has increased significantly.  Of the 18 coastal storms of record in Virginia Beach, 12 have occurred in the last 25 years.  During one 6-week period in 2016, Virginia Beach experienced 35-inches of rainfall from three storms, or more than two-thirds of the average annual rainfall.  Extreme weather, increased precipitation, sea level rise, land subsidence, and land development have greatly increased flooding impacts.  Flooding conditions are worsened by older developments designed to lesser rainfall and tailwater criteria and often with constrained outfalls.  The resultant recurrent flooding is a significant safety and quality of life concern.

Due to low-lying coastal terrain, a “berm, pond, and pump” solution is often required.  The City has envisioned needing more pump stations in the future to protect its residents and has been establishing consistent requirements for pump station facilities.  The requirements promote uniform pump station facilities which are a complex and significant infrastructure investment and promote uniform routine maintenance activities, storm preparedness and response activities during challenging storm events.

The planning and design of a resilient stormwater pump station system project with an automated tide gate, backflow prevention and interconnected pump stations will be presented.  The project is in the eastern Shore Drive area and is in close proximity to the Chesapeake Bay which is a volatile and dynamic environment subject to tropical storms, Nor’easters, and heavy summer thunderstorms.  The proposed system allows for the normal ebb and flood of tidal flow throughout the watershed and provides bypass pumping for 100% of the rainfall runoff around the tide gate when closed.  Additionally, pre-storm canal drawdown by the pumps will provide storage volume for peak attenuation to provide an adequate level of service for the watershed and the principal urban arterial roadway. Tide gate closures will be automatically actuated by water level sensors but can be controlled remotely.  Gate closure logic can employ predictive forecasting to prevent unnecessary pumping or to activate pre-storm drawdown based on anticipated climatic conditions.  The resilient stormwater pump station system will protect the community against natural disasters and enhance the ability to recover from disasters.


Author Bio

Glenn Bottomley is a registered Professional Engineer and has worked on many unique challenging civil engineering projects over 30 years with WSP. He is the Virginia Water Business Lead and a Technical Principal in Resilient Stormwater Infrastructure and also serves as the National Flood Protection Lead for WSP’s Resiliency Practice. Glenn has a diverse project background in planning, design and construction of flood protection, stormwater pump stations, pipelines, utilities, and high-profile roadway projects. Glenn graduated from Old Dominion University and serves on the ODU Civil and Environmental Engineering Visiting Council. Some relevant project accomplishments include Project Manager for: North Beach Stormwater Pump Station and Ocean Outfall, Virginia Beach Stormwater Pump Station Design Guidelines, and the 2001 VDOT Drainage Manual.

Brad Vanderwarker, P.E. is a Senior Project Manager for the City of Virginia Beach. He has over 35 years of engineering experience with plans, specifications, and construction administration, and specializes in drainage and stormwater management design. In the Air Force, Brad served as a pilot and Civil Engineer in the world’s largest medical center worldwide. After joining the private sector, Mr. Vanderwarker became registered as a Professional Engineer in 1990 serving 17 years as a consulting engineer and also serving 10 years as a Project Consultant, manufacturing modular precast concrete arch bridges and prefabricated stormwater water quality structures before entering the municipal sector.