Emerald and Sapphire Necklace


The Virginia Beach Emerald and Sapphire Necklace City Master Plan (the Plan) provides a cohesive framework for how the City of Virginia Beach can achieve the current Vision 2040, while becoming more resilient in the process. Virginia Beach is enriched by the lively culture of beach, military and family life that thrive in this southern-most region of the state.


In order to respond to changing global conditions such as sea level rise and increasing temperatures, this plan will address  how goals such as the Vision 2040, and A Community Plan for a Sustainable Future, among others might be realized and amended to resolve common issues across all 15 districts, as well as particular challenges faced by neighborhoods, industries, and businesses.

Most of the 452,745 residents1 of Virginia Beach live in medium to low density homes. Many of the neighborhoods here are arranged around cul-de-sacs and disconnected street patterns. This increases travel times and impervious pavement. Both of these factors lead to greater amounts of greenhouse gasses emitting into the air, and greater degrees of flooding.

This study will investigate the particular hazards that Virginia Beach is exposed to, where the city is most vulnerable to such hazards, and the potential actions citizens, businesses and public officials can take to protect their coastal community and enhance the quality of life in Virginia Beach for the long run. “Resilience is about surviving and thriving, regardless of the challenge."2

1.U.S. Census

2.100 Resilient Cities

Image from Google Earth


Between 2017 and 2022, the city plans to undertake several drainage and infrastructure projects that will cost an estimated $263 million. The fact of the matter is that this will address some of the most pressing issues that the city currently faces, but half of this funding is for operation and maintenance projects that will continue to multiply with sea levels that are estimated to rise by about 1 foot and 9 inches by 2050. Aware the degree of funding that will be necessary to keep up with elevating demands, the public works department outlined 5 budget issues that must be resolved:

Total Project Cost

>$40 Mil

Below: Rosemont Rd near Clubhouse Rd

• Flood Control (FC) is becoming more complicated and more expensive

• Storm Water and Surface Water Quality (WQ) regulations are more demanding

• More complicated FC and more demanding WQ regulations are increasing Operation and Maintenance (O&M) requirements

• Sea Level Rise is compounding FC, WQm and O&M requirements

• Existing funding will not be adequate as we move forward in future years


In order to resolve the issues faced by public works, we must rethink how our infrastructure is designed and how it will last in the future.3


Recently, Parsons Brinkerhoff surveyed the Windsor Woods and Princess Anne Plaza neighborhoods. This took an inventory of the homes most succeptible to flooding, and which homes suffered the greatest infrastructure damage. The marked adresses below lie within the FEMA flood zones A, in the Windsor Woods neighborhood, and AE, in the southern end of Princess Anne Plaza. Zone A has a "26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30‐year mortgage" and AE is the base floodplain for more see FEMA. The image to the right shows the survey results - click to enlarge.

The current plan for this area calls for a number of pipes to be replaced and enlarged in both neighborhoods, as well as the installation of more inlets, two ponds in the Bow Creek Golf Course, and two sluice gates and pump stations. In addition, the proposal calls for cleaning and dredging the existing canals, and elevating S Rosemont Road. 

Will that Fix Today's Problem?

We modeled the current conditions of this community to investigate the flooding issues a bit more. Above shows the path of rainfall runoff during a high tide event. With an elevated tide of about 4 feet and the added rainfall from a 100-year storm, we are looking at flooding in excess of 2 feet in some areas.

Community Workshop



Coming Soon