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Virginia CZM Program: 2015 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

VA CZM logoProject Task:



Wetlands Watch

Project Title:

Cost-Benefit Analysis & Marketing of the CRS as Resilience Tool in Coastal Virginia

Project Description:

With support from the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, Wetlands Watch plans to complete the project: Cost-Benefit Analysis & Marketing of the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System (CRS) as Resilience Tool in Coastal Virginia. This project will help advance the visibility of the CRS program in coastal Virginia and will help local governments embrace the CRS as a way to promote and achieve resilience in their communities. The CRS has the power to incentivize revisions to local ordinances, adopted plans, and policies; the successful policy updates in one locality are easily replicated in another if the modifications are marketed in an effective way.

Wetlands Watch is leading the movement to champion the CRS as a policy and planning tool to help Virginia’s coastal localities adapt to increased flooding and sea level rise. The CRS is at the intersection of nearly every planning and policy decision related to sea level rise resilience, mitigation, and adaptation. Identifying and effectively communicating the overlapping strategies and multiple benefits of participation in the program is critical to growing adaptive communities in the Commonwealth. Wetlands Watch has pioneered this work in Virginia and has been recognized for their innovative program.

Mary-Carson Stiff, Wetlands Watch Director of Policy, Chairs the Coastal Virginia CRS Workgroup, serving as a convener, curriculum developer, technical advisor, and FEMA liaison for member localities and other entities. In addition to providing these regional services, Wetlands Watch is using existing and growing relationships with decision makers at the national level to offer recommendations on how improvements to the CRS program could match the resilience efforts implemented at the local level. Wetlands Watch’s relationship with FEMA continues to grow, garnering the organization a strong reputation in the field and increased credibility.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Mary-Carson Stiff; 757.376.1364;

Project Status:

4/15/2017 - 9/30/2017; Project Completed

Final Product:

The Costs & Benefits of the CRS Program in Virginia (PDF)

Project Summary:


Wetlands Watch analyzed the costs and benefits for local governments participating in the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS) Program in Virginia. The CRS is a voluntary incentive based program that rewards actions local governments take to reduce flooding in the community with reduced flood insurance premiums. The costs of joining the CRS and maintaining participation in the program were previously unknown, leaving local governments in the dark when weighing the decision to join the program. This report aims to fill some of these information gaps and form a marketing strategy to build CRS participation and resilience in Virginia. The project found that CRS Coordinators in Virginia spend 13% (median) of 1 full time employee each year on the CRS, which equates to $11,570 each year using the estimated Virginia CRS Coordinator salary identified in the report. Benefit cost ratios were calculated for all Virginia CRS localities using the reported percentage of time spent on the CRS each year, the estimated Coordinator salary, and the flood insurance premium discount earned by the CRS class rating. Coordinators reveal the benefits of the CRS Program to the community that extend beyond flood insurance premium discounts and identify potential barriers to success in the Program. The report offers suggestions for overcoming these barriers to best grow CRS participation and success in Virginia.


“The Costs & Benefits of the CRS Program in Virginia,” Stiff, Mary-Carson, Wetlands Watch, 2017.


Report is linked on two websites: Wetlands Watch website here and the Coastal VA CRS Workgroup website here. The Wetlands Watch link was distributed to many different email lists and interested parties. It will be distributed via newsletters: local, regional, and potentially national.

Disclaimer: This project summary provides the federal dollars initially awarded to the grantee. Due to underexpenditure or reprogramming of grant funds, this figure may change. For more information on the allocation of coastal grant funds, please contact Laura McKay, Virginia Coastal Program Manager, at 804.698.4323 or


A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to or

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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