Press Releases

Water Institute joins team selected to develop Virginia's first Coastal Resilience Master Plan

BATON ROUGE, La. (March 29, 2021) – The Commonwealth of Virginia announced that The Water Institute of the Gulf will be joining Dewberry, a planning, design, and construction firm based in Virginia, and other partners to assist with the development and delivery of Virginia’s first Coastal Resilience Master Plan.

"The Water Institute is proud to bring its coastal engineering, modeling, ecological and, social science expertise to help Virginia officials adapt to the growing challenges across the Virginia coast and in Chesapeake Bay," said Dale Morris, Director of Strategic Partnerships with the Water Institute and Virginia native and resident. “Every coastal state is facing similar challenges and Virginia’s coastal master planning process will be a model for others to follow. Leadership matters, and Governor Ralph Northam and state leaders are to be applauded for this crucial step."

The Water Institute will help develop coastal resilience strategies, support the Technical Advisory Committee and subcommittees with plan development, assist with adaptation project prioritization and stakeholder outreach, and provide quality review for master plan modeling.

“The Water Institute is proud to support Governor Northam, his team, and Dewberry as we embark on developing the Commonwealth’s first Coastal Resilience Master Plan,” said Justin R. Ehrenwerth, Water Institute President and CEO. “For nearly a decade, the Water Institute has worked with many collaborators to support Louisiana in multiple iterations of its Coastal Master Plan. We’re honored to partner with Dewberry in bringing our experience and the best available science to address the challenges facing Virginia’s communities, environment, and economy.”

Read the full release from the Commonwealth of Virginia here.

Commonwealth of Virginia Selects Dewberry to Assist in Developing Coastal Resilience Master Plan

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced the award of a professional services contract between the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the planning and engineering firm Dewberry to work with state officials and the Virginia Coastal Master Plan Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) in developing the Commonwealth’s first Coastal Resilience Master Plan. Deliverables include finalization of a project-based plan built upon the Virginia Coastal Master Planning Framework by November 2021.

“Selecting Dewberry as our partner will enable the Commonwealth to develop a comprehensive, ambitious Coastal Resilience Master Plan,” said Governor Northam. “We look forward to working with this team of experts to implement nature-based, cost effective, and equitable solutions that address the challenges of sea level rise and coastal flooding and improve the resilience of our communities, businesses, and critical infrastructure.”

Dewberry is joined by The Water Institute of the Gulf and Virginia-certified small, women-, and minority-owned subcontractors GKY & Associates, Vision Planning and Consulting, and The Miles Agency. The team was awarded the contract through a competitive request-for-proposals process after careful evaluation of numerous proposals. Among its many achievements in the coastal adaptation and protection space, the Dewberry team has played a significant role in developing the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Master Plans, and was the lead consultant on the City of Virginia Beach’s recently completed Sea Level Wise planning project.

“Dewberry knows Virginia, and we are ready to hit the ground running,” said Dewberry Project Manager Brian Batten. “We look forward to working with Governor Northam’s team and the Coastal TAC to produce a sound plan for a more resilient Commonwealth.”

The TAC has held two meetings since its formation last fall, and several TAC subcommittees have been established to address specific issues outlined in the Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework that Governor Northam released in October 2020. Dewberry will work with the TAC, the Chief Resilience Officer, and the Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection to create and refine the models and strategies that will make up the Master Plan.

“While we have an ambitious schedule to complete Virginia’s first Coastal Resilience Master Plan this year, I know the team we have assembled from across the Commonwealth and beyond is up to the task,” said Secretary of Natural Resources and Chief Resilience Officer Matthew J. Strickler. “I am pleased that Dewberry has agreed to lend its expertise as well, and am confident that we will finish this historic effort before the end of Governor Northam’s term.”

Further, Dewberry will assist in designing and implementing a robust public outreach campaign to ensure that all coastal communities are familiar with the Master Plan process and are able to provide meaningful input.

“It is critically important that we get buy-in for the Master Plan at the community level, and that we are diligent in reaching out to both traditional partners, and to traditionally underserved communities in urban and rural areas,” said Rear Admiral (Retired) Ann C. Phillips, Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection. “The Commonwealth has a critical role to play in ensuring that the benefits of enhanced coastal resilience are distributed equitably, and that no community is disproportionately burdened.”

About The Water Institute of the Gulf

The Water Institute is an independent, non-profit, applied research institution advancing science and developing integrated methods to solve complex environmental and societal challenges. The Institute helps communities thoughtfully prepare for an uncertain future. For more information, visit