Hampton becomes first Virginia municipality to use Environmental Impact Bond to help reduce flooding, pollution

Virginia News

Neighborhood flooding on Kincaid Lane in Hampton, Va. on Nov. 12, 2020 Photo courtesy: Verna Turner)

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Hampton became the first municipality in Virginia, third in the country, to use an environmental impact bond to help reduce flooding and pollution.

The city closed on Virginia’s first Environmental Impact Bond Wednesday, a creative outcomes-based tool to finance $12 million in nature-based solutions to localized flooding as part of its Resilient Hampton initiative.

These bonds allow investors to support innovative projects with measurable and reportable benefits for communities and the environment and ensure the outcomes of the projects are reported back to the investors.

Hampton’s three critical projects are expected to add more than 8.6 million gallons of storage capacity for stormwater that would otherwise contribute to flooding and polluted runoff in the Newmarket Creek watershed, a key environmental, economic, and transportation corridor.  

Hampton has experienced increased flooding frequency and severity in recent years. Through this Environmental Impact Bond, the City of Hampton will predict, measure, and report on the stormwater volume storage capacity added by these projects. The gathered data will inform future public investments in resilience projects that seek to improve quality of life, economic viability, and environmental health for Hampton residents, while also disclosing the measured outcomes to the bond’s investors.

The three prototype resiliency projects that will be constructed with the proceeds from this bond are:

Big Bethel Blueway: A green infrastructure project that will store and slow water through the redesign of existing waterways in order to reduce flooding upstream and downstream in Newmarket Creek. The project creates stormwater storage through the expansion of the main drainage channel, the addition of bioretention cells to backyard drainage swales, and the installation of several weirs in the channel. Newly planted vegetation on the channel banks will filter and slow stormwater runoff before it reaches the waterways. Future funding will transform the existing maintenance path into a recreation trail with additional stormwater storage capacity.

North Armistead Avenue Road Raising and Green Infrastructure: This road raising project will eliminate chronic flooding on a major thoroughfare and evacuation route, improving transportation reliability to Joint Base Langley-Eustis and key economic centers. In connection with the road raising, green infrastructure will be installed in the median and on the road shoulders to help slow, store, and redirect stormwater within the space adjacent to the elevated roadway.

Lake Hampton: This project involves the transformation of a detention pond into a purposefully-designed stormwater park with enhanced stormwater storage capacity. The project will raise the height of the dam and weir to greatly increase potential storage volume, as well as install a series of smaller detention basins with wetland plantings to slow, store, and clean runoff from North Armistead Avenue before it enters the lake.

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