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Virginia CZM Program: 2017 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

VA CZM logoProject Task:



Northern Virginia Regional Commission 

Project Title:

Utilizing Regional Collaboration to Build Community Resiliency in Northern Virginia 

Project Description:

Northern Virginia is predicted to experience an increase in extreme precipitation events, more frequent and longer heat waves, and low-lying coastal areas are projected to see increased flooding from sea level rise and storm surge.  These stressors combined with the staggering population growth and conversion of land from open to urban, pose a risk for vulnerable people, assets, economies and ecosystems. The economic consequences of extreme climate events make resiliency planning at the regional level imperative and urgent. 

The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has repeatedly pointed to the frailties of planning strategies that are generally designed to withstand the range of extremes in the 100-year historical record.  However, based on the climate projections provided by National Climate Assessment (, using the past 100-year record will no longer provide an adequate range of extremes for planning and design.

But tools such as the Resilient City Index and the NOAA Resilience Toolkit are helping push resiliency planning to the forefront by characterizing risks and providing recommendations to localities that aspire to reduce vulnerability to climate hazards.  These pioneering initiatives have the strong potential for application in Northern Virginia.  

In response to these acute and chronic challenges raised above, Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) formed the “Northern Virginia Climate Resiliency Team” (NVCRT) in November 2016 with funding from a FY16 grant from the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program.  The purpose of the grant and team is to develop a Roadmap to Resiliency by October of 2017.  The “Roadmap” has already started the process of identifying the primary climate-related stressors facing the region, developing challenge statements for each agency, and supporting regular regional coordination, communication and collaboration ( ).

The funding requested under this proposal would allow NVRC to continue this important work by sustaining the Northern Virginia Climate Resiliency Team for three years to assist in developing a robust plan to increase resiliency across each of the participating jurisdictions of the region.

The specific objectives that will be accomplished through this FY 17 scope of work are:

1) Sustain & coordinate a working group of technical and policy experts from across the region to
2) characterize the risk of infrastructure from climate stressors;
3) Use a “resiliency index” to quantify effective resiliency strategies;
4) Develop a monitoring plan for living shorelines in Northern Virginia; and
5) Pilot use of the Risk Characterization Template.

The funding requested in this proposal addresses the CZMP Goal of planning for Coastal Resiliency. Since Northern Virginia is in close proximity to the Washington Metropolitan Region, NVRC proposes to align this effort with parallel resiliency and climate adaptation planning efforts undertaken by the National Capitol Planning Commission, Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments, Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities Program, and Washington D.C. through coordination and technical transfers of information.

A regional approach for resiliency planning provides a greater platform for communication of best practices across communities and allows for leveraging of resources to build resiliency.  The strategic planning approach of this proposal will assist in efforts reduce risk in Northern Virginia.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Corey Miles, 703.642.4625;  

Project Status:

10/1/2017 - 9/30/2018; Project Completed  

Final Product:

Utilizing Regional Collaboration to Build Community Resilience in Northern Virginia (PDF)  

Project Summary:

Product #1 - NOVA Climate Resilience Team

In response to acute and chronic challenges posed by climate change and extreme weather, NVRC formed the “Northern Virginia Climate Resiliency Team” (NVCRT) in November 2016 with funding from a FY16 grant from the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program. The work conducted under this FY17 grant allowed NVRC to continue sustaining the Northern Virginia Climate Resiliency Team another year to assist in developing implementation strategies to increase resiliency of critical infrastructure across each of the participating jurisdictions of the region. NVRC staff coordinated and facilitated five meetings during the grant period.

Product #2 – Risk Matrix

The need for a simple, semi-quantitative way to assess vulnerability of critical infrastructure from a variety of long and short-term climate scenarios led NVRC staff to develop the risk assessment matrix. Risk assessment involves the calculation of the magnitude of potential consequences of an event (levels of impacts) and the likelihood (levels of probability) that those consequences will occur. Risk = Consequence x Likelihood; where; Consequence (C) is the relative impact of that event and Likelihood (L) is the Probability of occurrence or R=C*L. The C × L matrix method combines the scores from the consequence ratings and the likelihood rating that a specific consequence will occur to generate a risk score and risk rating. The matrix is a useful tool for making data driven decisions.

Product #3 - Resilience Index

Enhancing the resilience of critical infrastructure requires an understanding of the systems and adaptive capacity. NVRC staff developed the index to determine where additional adaptive capacity might be needed to improve resilience. The preliminary index can be defined as Resilience (Rs) equals Risk (where R=C*L) divided by the sum of weighted Adapative Capacity metrics (ACw).


Product #4 - Monitoring Plan for Living Shorelines

NVRC contracted with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to develop a monitoring protocol for the living shoreline that was installed at Leesylvania State Park. The monitoring plan was developed specifically for the site conditions at Leesylvania State Park but can be used to inform monitoring plans at additional sites as well. The plan will be used to monitor the effectiveness of the shoreline at reducing erosion and creating wetland habitat.

Product #5 - Pilot-Scale Implementation of Risk Assessment Matrix

The risk assessment matrix was pilot tested using several different scenarios as a desktop exercise with the resilience stakeholder work group. Small groups led by subject matter experts from Booz Allen Hamilton used the risk matrix sheet to evaluate the likelihood and consequence on sectors of infrastructure from the scenario. The groups were able to use the interactive maps to locate vulnerable infrastructure for each scenario. The group discussed scores and came to a consensus on the ranking. Most sectors of infrastructure faced some risk, however, transportation and energy infrastructure scored the highest. These results will be presented to the board members of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission at their meeting in September 2019 along with a resolution accepting this report. 

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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