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What’s happening with Virginia Beach flood projects funded by $567M bond referendum?

Ongoing construction on the Windsor Woods tide gate near Mount Trashmore this month. (Photo courtesy of City of Virginia Beach)
Ongoing construction on the Windsor Woods tide gate near Mount Trashmore this month. (Photo courtesy of City of Virginia Beach)

Virginia Beach is in the midst of a half-a-billion-dollar effort to protect itself from flooding.

Back in 2021, residents overwhelmingly voted to allow the city to issue $567.5 million in bonds to cover a series of projects meant to better handle rising waters.

The referendum grew out of research following extensive flooding during Hurricane Matthew in 2016, which made it clear to the city that much of its 1960s-era stormwater infrastructure was outdated. 

Virginia Beach officials came up with 21 priority projects to address flooding, which were funded by the bond referendum. Almost two dozen other stormwater projects were already in the city’s capital plan and are also part of the overall flood program, which the city dubbed the Ripple Effect.

City Engineer Toni Utterback said the name came about after many citizens asked why they should vote for a program that didn’t have projects in their area.

“We wanted to convey to the public that although you might not have something in your neighborhood … you travel through different areas of Virginia Beach that may experience flooding.”

The city has now completed a few of the projects and is working on many others, Utterback said. She said residents should expect to see lots of construction cropping up around the city – with signs that denote their connection to the Ripple Effect. 

Here is a non-exhaustive update:


  • Windsor Woods drainage: There’s a small new retention pond at the former Bow Creek golf course meant to capture water and ease flooding on Rosemont Road. The city also did some drainage improvements along Rosemont, South Plaza Trail and Old Forge Road.
  • Lake Pleasure House outfall: The city installed new storm drain pipes from Lake Pleasure House to an existing pump station to better maintain water levels within the lake.
  • Cape Henry drainage: To prepare for bigger improvements around Eastern Shore Drive, the city relocated a sewer line underneath the Cape Henry Canal, which will ultimately be widened and deepened.


  • Windsor Woods tide gate: The city’s building a tide gate across Thalia Creek near Mount Trashmore, to hold back water and protect the infrastructure system in Windsor Woods. 
  • Bow Creek Stormwater Park: A new park will go up at the former golf course with several stormwater ponds to absorb excess water. “It will kind of be hidden behind all these park amenities,” Utterback said. “But in a storm event it will provide a lot of needed stormwater storage that the Princeton Plaza and the Lakes area does not currently have.” Some walking trails are already open.
  • Lake Bradford dredging: The city’s doing some dredging and cleaning an outfall in the Lake Bradford/Chubb Lake area to allow the roads to better drain along Pleasure House Road and Shore Drive. 

Coming soon:

  • Eastern Shore Drive Phase One: Four projects under this banner will be contracted and go to construction next year. That includes the Cape Henry Canal deepening, two new pump stations around Lynnhaven Colony Park and elevating part of Lynnhaven Drive.

Further down the line, the city also hopes to build a roughly $27 million central “stormwater operations center” to get a handle on all this new infrastructure. 
It would function similar to a traffic operations center, providing real-time updates during a storm – but using sensor data from the new pump stations, Utterback said.

In this year’s legislative agenda – a sort of funding wish list cities send the state legislature – Virginia Beach requested $15 million for the facility. 

To mark some of its recent progress with the Ripple Effect program, Virginia Beach also recently launched a new online visualization tool that allows users to compare before-and-after flooding scenarios of the projects. Right now, only the Eastern Shore Drive improvement is listed. 

“It’s kind of a way to demonstrate to the public a return on their investment,” Utterback said. 

Virginia Beach City Council appointed a seven-member oversight board to monitor the program’s progress. The city’s deadline to complete all 21 bond-funded projects is 2032.

Katherine is WHRO’s climate and environment reporter. She came to WHRO from the Virginian-Pilot in 2022. Katherine is a California native who now lives in Norfolk and welcomes book recommendations, fun science facts and of course interesting environmental news.

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