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Federal study considers floodwall in Belle Haven to reduce flooding risk

A map depicts the location of a proposed floodwall in Belle Haven (via U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

A floodwall in the Belle Haven community could help address Northern Virginia’s flood risk.

A recent study looked at the west bank of the Potomac River from Arlington to Prince William County for solutions to improve resiliency and reduce risks to human health and safety, economic damages, and disruption of critical infrastructure, according to a presentation.

While there were multiple options, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found a 5,600-foot-long floodwall in Belle Haven and a 2,500-foot-long floodwall along the Arlington Water Pollution Control Plant on S. Glebe Road were the most feasible.

The total cost of both would be $52.6 million, which includes a 45% contingency on costs, and is estimated to reduce about $66 million in potential damage.

The proposed Belle Haven floodwall would begin around Golf Course Square and extend down Boulevard View before turning west. Then, an earthen levee would be constructed and end near Westview Dog Park, according to the Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment by Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

A map shows the potential flooding of Belle Haven by 2030 (via U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

A map of Belle Haven shows that by 2030, the flood risk could extend to the Belle View Shopping Center, Belle Haven Country Club and other parts of the community.

The Belle Haven floodwall would have permanent aesthetic and recreation impacts, as well as stream impacts, according to the presentation. The floodwall would be about 6 feet tall on average.

During construction, there would also be temporary stream impacts. Mitigation would be required for permanent stream impacts.

A rendering shows what a 6.5 foot floodwall could look like in Belle Haven (via U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

The public can comment on the study through Thursday, June 30, by emailing the project team at DC-Metro-CSRM-Study@usace.army.mil. The Corps of Engineers will respond to comments and revise the report between July and September, determing if this is the preferred option by November.

After further study, design — which hasn’t been funded yet — wouldn’t begin on the project until at least 2024.

The study was conducted as Northern Virginia has seen damaging storms over the years, to include the Chesapeake and Potomac Hurricane of 1933, Hurricane Agnes (1972), Hurricane Fran (1996), Nor’easter (1998), Hurricane Floyd (1999), Hurricane Isabel (2003), Hurricane Irene (2011) and Hurricane Sandy (2012).

Hurricane Isabel resulted in extreme water levels and caused millions of dollars of damage to residences, businesses and critical infrastructure, according to the study.

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