Alexandria’s Flooding Woes Get Fix from Biden’s COVID Relief Law

Flooding in Old Town Alexandria

A police car blocks off a low-lying area of Old Town Alexandria, Va., Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, near the Potomac River on the morning after Hurricane Sandy. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

By Alex Scribner

July 26, 2021

Between two projects, over $5 million of funding from the American Rescue Plan will go directly to fixing flood-related incidents.

Funding from one of the Biden administration’s stimulus packages, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), may help tackle Alexandria’s flooding problems.

In the first set of approved funding, city council members said they focused on spending that achieves four recovery goals and general COVID expenses. The four goals are building thriving businesses, universal access to necessities, cultural engagement, and long-term community investment. And part of that last goal includes “flash flooding spot improvements” and “storm water state of good repair and resiliency.”

Between the two projects, over $5 million–nearly 20% of the approved spending–will go directly to fixing flood-related incidents. That money will go towards four location-specific improvement projects, including “detention, pipes and other drainage improvements that make neighborhoods more resilient to climate change and flash flooding,” says the city’s official allocation plan.

More Money Needed For Full Flood Prevention Effort

Despite that funding, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said more money is needed.

“No, this gets nowhere near addressing all of our flooding issues, but it does reflect an allocation of what can be done given the timeline under the legislation,” said Wilson in a email to Dogwood. “Given the deadline for obligation of the funds … there are many flooding projects that do not meet those criteria.”

The ARPA spending must be allocated by the end of 2026. Mayor Wilson said the city has $400M of storm-water improvements budgeted or planned for the next decade. However, current solutions may need to be adjusted as climate change worsens. 

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