Virginia Beach Coastal Flooding Resilient Infrastructure

WSP USA’s phased improvements to the region’s infrastructure, designed to increase resilience against increasingly extreme weather events and sea level rise, have already proved their protective potential.


  • Virginia to Maryland, USA


  • City of Virginia Beach

Project Status

  • Phase 1 complete, phase 2 ongoing

Exposed to the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Beach and environs are among the most vulnerable U.S. communities to the impacts of climate change. Severe storms have become more frequent — well over half of the most intense storms on record have occurred in the past 20 years — and coupled with sea level rise, the region faces the reality of frequent, recurrent flooding that inundates stormwater infrastructure, closes roads and causes structural damage.


WSP is partnering with the City of Virginia Beach to plan and design adaptation projects to protect the community against these extreme weather events and sea level rise. Our team provided planning, design and construction administration services for the installation of automated tide control sluice gates at three strategic locations on the tidally influenced Cape Henry Canal — two at separate outfalls of twin 30-inch culverts and another at the outfall of a 48-inch pipe. Level sensors automatically actuate the tide gate to close and prevent tidal flooding, or to open to release rainfall runoff. Water level sensor data is uploaded to the Internet and performance is monitored and thresholds refined.


The operational automated tidal sluice gate structures proved efficient and effective, preventing structural flooding during Hurricane Dorian, which struck shortly after project completion.

The next phase of the project involves construction of three large interconnected “smart” stormwater pump stations controlled by an automated tide gate for pre-storm volume drawdown. Together, the system provides a long-term solution to protect the communities of Virginia Beach.