the private sector participate as well in public-private partnerships, all the better.”
THE NORFOLK PARTNERSHIP
Norfolk, Va., has chosen to lead by example, making water
one of the primary issues in its strategy to address overall resilience. “We’re working with our partners, our major assets,
and our sister cities to understand what it will take to be a
vibrant economy as the sea level rises,” said Christine Morris,
Norfolk’s chief resilience officer.
Walloped with a hurricane in 2003 and a nor’easter in
2009, the coastal city of Norfolk saw the need to protect its
residents from destruction of their homes and property, and
from potential loss of life. “In a series of storms, we were
seeing water in new places on a regular basis,” said Morris.
“Heavier downpours and the resulting collection of water was
more than our systems could handle.”
Working with Dutch representatives to fully understand the
area’s water system, the Norfolk team went through historic
maps to see what changes had taken place in the area’s water
system over time. “It was a real eye-opener for me — I un-
derstood how you can use that history to manage water go-
ing forward,” Morris said. “Our thinking evolved very quickly.
Now we are looking to hold the water as far up in the water-
shed as we can — managing it away from the spaces where
it floods. Hold it, slow it, try to clean it, and when we can,
release it into the existing system.”
In addition, in February 2016, the city of Norfolk and
USACE signed the Feasibility Coast Share Agreement, allowing
the Norfolk District Corps of Engineers to take a comprehen-
sive look at the city to identify areas in which projects could be
constructed to protect it from sea-level rise.
“I always say that cities change continuously — physically,
demographically, and economically,” said Morris. “If water is
going to be in places that it wasn’t before, how do you take
that opportunity and make it into something great? Having
more water is not necessarily a terrible thing if you use it in
ways that enhance the life of the city.” WW
About the Author: Randi Minetor is a freelance writer based in Rochester, N. Y.
Wetlands restoration in Norfolk, Va.
The Arcadis report looked at how prepared the world’s cities are to meet
water-related challenges and how well they are adapting.
Figure 1: Resiliency Rankings
Rio de Janeiro
Water Stress Green Space Water-related Disaster Risk
Flood Risk Water Balance Reserve Water
0.00 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.08 0.10 0.12 0.14 0.16 0.18
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