Email Newsletter

Fairfax County could raise building standards to address flood risk from severe storms

Rain collects around a storm drain (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County is considering making all existing and future development built to lessen flooding risks from huge, 100-year event storms, as opposed to a 10-year storm.

The risk of flooding in the county is rising due to climate change, staff told the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors environmental committee late last month. While preventing flooding is impossible, its impact can be mitigated, they said.

Under the staff proposal, the county would require all future development to have proper drainage, pipe conveyance, and safety measures to accommodate a 100-year storm event adjusting for climate change.

The proposal is part of the county’s Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan, which was approved last September.

A “100-year storm event” is defined by the U.S. Geological Survey as one that “statistically has a 1-percent chance of occurring in any given year.” It brings about 8 inches of rain over a 24-hour period, according to the latest data.

With climate change expected to produce stronger storms and increased flooding, that figure is likely to be adjusted in the future.

Part of the proposal is that new development would be required to be built to adjust for predicted sea level rise and severe weather risks.

Currently, all developments must accommodate a 10-year storm event, which is the 10% chance of 4.5 inches of rain falling in a 24-hour period.

In the last decade, Fairfax County and the D.C. region have experienced several flood-level storms. In 2011, Tropical Storm Lee dumped 7 inches of rain in three hours. In 2019, nearly 5 inches came down in some parts of the county, and just last month, nearby Montgomery County experienced extreme flooding from more than 5 inches of rain.

For existing structures, like houses, the plan is to “mitigate” flooding through regulation, public infrastructure projects, and recovery programs.

“There’s no right answer about what flood risk is acceptable because there’s no such thing as zero risk from flood,” Department of Public Works and Environmental Services Deputy Director Ellie Codding said. “What we can do is design infrastructure to a reasonable point and to educate the public and be ready with resources for recovery.”

With water typically passing through residential properties from upstream, a channel or flood path blocked by a fence, debris or an unpermitted addition can exacerbate flooding, preventing water from flowing where it was designed to go.

Almost all flooding in the county happens in basements, Codding said, so understanding and preventing this is a shared responsibility of residents and the county.

“With participation from residents and businesses, the county alone can’t achieve a meaningful level of flood risk reduction,” she said.

Of course, all of this will come with a cost, one that might be supplemented by increased taxes.

While board members agreed with the overall assessment, several noted that educating homeowners will be an important and more cost-effective component.

Chairman Jeff McKay said homeowners associations or community groups that own and manage stormwater facilities and common areas (like ponds) may not know how to maintain those.

“I’m increasingly concerned about the smaller subdivisions and lack of information, assistance, and oversight to even maintain stormwater facilities that they put in with their development,” McKay said.

Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw noted that some responsibility needs to fall on contractors, who might be doing home renovations or repairs. They are either not educated themselves on good practices or not passing that knowledge on to their clients.

With the board’s consent, county staff are expected to present a “proof-of-concept” study with cost estimates next spring, followed by a flood mitigation plan later in 2023.

Recent Stories

The weekend is almost here. Before you double check your Congressional district or head to bed for some much-needed sleep, let’s revisit the past week of news in Fairfax County….

McLean High School teacher Jeffrey Brocketti can’t wait to tell everyone what he discussed with host Pat Sajak during a “Wheel of Fortune” commercial break. He will soon be allowed…

A DogFest is coming to Reston Town Square Park tomorrow (Saturday). The event, slated to take place from 11 a.m to 3 p.m. at 11900 Market Street, will benefit Canine…

(Updated at 6:15 p.m.) — Bailey’s Crossroads, including Route 7 and Crossroads Place, has reopened and shelter-in-place orders have been lifted after reported gunshots prompted a massive police response to…

Are you tired of going to the gym? It might be the crowds, the locker room, waiting on equipment or the time it takes to commute to the gym.

Having a personal trainer come to your home will keep you accountable, save you time and allow you to workout in the comfort of your own home.

Skip the hassle of the gym and try our in-home personal training service.

Our services are reasonably priced, convenient, effective and are risk free.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Ending your marriage and living in the shadows of its pain is one thing, but when children (2 and 4 legged ones) are involved it’s not only about you. Divorce Mediation is the way to resolve the past and establish a solid, cooperative foundation to reorganize the relationship with your former partner. Everyone involved will benefit and you will gain peace-of-mind. Divorce Mediation is the cost effective way to negotiate your divorce and sign a Separation Agreement that is equitable and fair. 

Walid Jawad will facilitate the divorce process in a calm and thoughtful manner to help you establish the foundation for your next phase in life.  Walid’s 5-Star google reviews is a testament to his dedication to limiting divorcing couples’ stress during this intense transitional period.

Mediate your divorce virtually from the convenience of your kitchen table for $1,200 and save yourself the average Virginia cost of $15,000 per divorce and $22,000 with children. Make a complimentary appointment with Walid at Aether Mediation here: www.aethermediation.com

Submit your own Community Post here.

Ravel Dance Company presents the Nutcracker Ballet

The Ravel Dance Company will present this holiday tradition for the 2nd year at the gorgeous Capital One Hall main stage. It is a wonderful way to start the holiday season. Follow Clara through her journey to the Pine forest,

Silent Dance Party

Reston Station is hosting the first ever FREE Silent Dance Party on Reston Metro Plaza on Saturday, October 1, 2022, from 5-9 pm!

To dance, you will be provided wireless headphones in exchange for your driver’s license. Choose from three

×

Subscribe to our mailing list