Fairfax Co. unveils climate adaptation and resilience plan

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, InsideNoVa.com, and republished with permission. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.

Fairfax County is proposing long-term and short-term solutions to the harmful effects of climate change, and it wants feedback from residents.

The draft Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan for Resilient Fairfax, led by the Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination, focuses on the effects of climate change in the county.

According to the report, the effects of climate change have cost the county millions of dollars in damage. It also states that even if all global greenhouse gas emissions were eliminated today, the county would continue to see some level of climate change in the future.

“Therefore, in all future scenarios, it is important to become resilient to climate change effects,” the plan states.

The report aims to identify where the county is vulnerable to climate change and determines the strategies needed to address climate effects.

Allison Homer, planner for the Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination, said the county is most vulnerable to heavy precipitation, inland flooding, increasingly severe storms and extreme heat. Neighborhoods along the Potomac River are also at risk of coastal flooding impacts.

“The Resilient Fairfax plan includes strategies to enhance our resilience to these climatic hazards,” Homer said last month during the Board of Supervisors Environmental Committee Meeting. 

Some solutions include developing a flood risk reduction plan and a comprehensive risk and preparedness education program for county residents. It also explores putting policies in place that support green infrastructure implementation. Another solution includes making a county-level climate fund.

“The fund would not be county department specific, but rather available to all county departments who are implementing resilience related projects,” the report states.

It goes on to say that proactively developing a climate-resilience plan is more beneficial than reacting to climate hazards. It highlighted four major weather events that caused more than $28 million in damages:

  • The North American blizzard in 2010 resulted in a $2 million loss.
  • Tropical Storm Lee in 2011 cost the county $10 million in repairs to bridges and roads.
  • Hurricane Sandy in 2012 cost over $1.5 million.
  • July 2019 rainfall/flooding event cost $14.8 million.

“These climate impacts are projected to increase in both intensity and frequency, impacting our neighborhoods, businesses, infrastructure, public services, the local economy, and natural environment,” the report states.

The plan is open for public comment through June 15. After that, the project team will complete revisions before the presentation of the final plan. The Board of Supervisors could approve the document in the fall.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner InsideNoVa.com and republished with permission. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.


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