The Bulletin

Hampton takes home biggest slice of latest round of flood fund awards

By: - January 7, 2022 12:02 am

The Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. (Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)

The city of Hampton, in Virginia’s increasingly flood-beset region of Hampton Roads, will get more than $9 million in funds from the second round of Community Flood Preparedness Fund grants, which are paid for using proceeds from Virginia’s participation in a regional carbon market. 

Hampton’s windfall is over a third of the total $24.5 million in flood fund awards announced last month. 

The largest city projects to receive funding are efforts to reduce flooding in the low-lying Newmarket Creek watershed, which includes Hampton’s main business district and residential neighborhoods. 

As part of its “North Armistead Avenue and Lake Hampton” project, Hampton will get $3.8 million to elevate part of a roadway, install green infrastructure to slow, store and reroute stormwater, and repurpose an existing detention pond into a “stormwater park.”

An additional $3 million will go toward the “Big Bethel Blueway” project, which is reworking a drainage canal into a public green space that can store stormwater during times of heavy precipitation. 

Flood fund dollars will pay for only a portion of these projects, with Hampton putting forward millions of its own monies, including proceeds from the city’s environmental impact bond. 

Other recipients of the second round of Flood Fund awards include the city of Alexandria, which will get $3.2 million for waterfront improvements, and the city of Petersburg, which will get $2.2 million for a comprehensive citywide drainage study and floodplain ordinance update. 

Not all awardees are coastal: two projects in Southside and Southwest Virginia will focus on resilience planning to prepare for flooding. 

The flood fund draws its dollars from revenues allocated to Virginia through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an 11-state cap-and-invest program designed to reduce carbon emissions while channeling funds to participating states. Virginia law passed in 2020 requires that 45 percent of all RGGI revenues go to the Flood Fund. 

In December, Republican Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin pledged to withdraw Virginia from RGGI by executive action, although his authority to do so is disputed. 

In 2021, the state’s overall RGGI revenues totaled $228 million, directing almost $103 million to the flood fund. Of that, only $32 million has been awarded so far. On Wednesday, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, which administers the fund, announced it was opening up the third round of grants to applications, with $40 million available. 

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Sarah Vogelsong
Sarah Vogelsong

Sarah is Editor-in-Chief of the Mercury and previously its environment and energy reporter. She has worked for multiple Virginia and regional publications, including Chesapeake Bay Journal, The Progress-Index and The Caroline Progress. Her reporting has won awards from groups such as the Society of Environmental Journalists and Virginia Press Association, and she is an alumna of the Columbia Energy Journalism Initiative and Metcalf Institute Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists.