Everything in Life Must Have Balance…Including Water Quality and Quantity

Virginia Beach, is experiencing more frequent flooding due to sea level rise, increased storm intensity, and aging infrastructure. These issues coupled with tidal impacts and low elevations has resulted in severe flooding in portions of the City. Hurricane Matthew (2016) resulted in the worst structural flooding ever experienced.  As a result, the City embarked upon an extensive, multi-year flood mitigation improvement program. The goal is to increase resiliency to future storms, mitigate structural flooding, and improve roadway accessibility.

One of the proposed solutions to address water quantity and quality is to convert a City-owned golf course into a Stormwater Park.  One of the most critical aspects is creation of additional storage, creating a bank of VSMP water quality credits for the overall flood mitigation program, and maximizing potential to address the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.  Before the design team could move forward to the 30% design a clear plan needed to be in place to balance quality and quantity.  To address quantity the golf course will be excavated to create large ponding areas that will mostly be tidally influenced to allow for a healthy ecosystem.  To address the VSMP requirements two existing level one ponds will be retrofitted to meet level two requirements, constructed wetlands will be implemented where urban runoff reaches the stormwater park, and permeable surfaces will be used on a new parking area.  Due to the tidal nature of the central ponding area is was difficult to identify how to obtain water quality credits in this area.  The VA BMP clearinghouse does not have guidance for tidal wetlands and the Bay Expert Panel Reports focus on non-tidal wetlands.  Through calls with regulators and extensive research it was determined that tidally influenced ponding area can be treated like shoreline and our design could incorporate wetland plantings to create credits using the living shoreline protocols.

The 30% Designs have been developed to create a multi-tiered water quality and quantity facility with recreational components (trails, skate park, sports fields, etc.), some of which will also double as flood storage during extreme events. The entire facility will also be used for public education with signage to bring attention to all of the water quality measures. This is an exciting and collaborative project that will provide flood mitigation, but also double as a park for the entire community to enjoy!