May 15, 2024

The Ripple Effect: In Efforts to Prevent Future Flooding, a Master Model Leads the Way 

Technical Services program manager C.J. Bodnar explains the role of the City’s master model in solving flooding problems across Virginia Beach.

Technical Services program manager C J Bodnar

When C.J. Bodnar graduated from the Virginia Military Institute with an engineering degree, stormwater management wasn’t on his radar. A medical discharge from the Navy ended his military career sooner than planned and sent him into the private sector as a civil engineer. He quickly discovered he had a knack for stormwater projects.  

“When I first started doing the work, I easily understood the concepts. I could come up with innovative ideas on how to make a site work, how to make a site drain and meet all the regulations,” C.J. said. “It became one of those niches where anywhere I went to work, all the stormwater projects came to me.”   

After two decades designing subdivisions, convenience stores and shopping centers, C.J. sought a position as a stormwater engineer at the City of Virginia Beach. In contrast to the private sector where the focus is on the bottom line, C.J. has appreciated local government’s emphasis on solving problems.   

“Here, our focus is on making sure what we’re saying is correct and what we’re doing is done right,” he said. “We’re working hard to make sure we can resolve flooding issues throughout the city.”  

Within the City’s Stormwater Engineering Center, C.J. serves as program manager of the Technical Services division where, for the past nine years, he has helped develop the City’s master stormwater model.   

In this model, “The whole city is mapped out for elevation, flooding, tidal dynamics and wind-tide flooding,” he said.   

C.J. says the master model is a powerful tool for being able to prevent future flooding. “You can’t tell what’s flooding without a model to tell you what’s happening during a storm event.”  

In conjunction with the master model, the Virginia Beach Recurrent Flooding Indicator Map is available online for the public to view and search. After typing in a Virginia Beach address, users can choose options in the Layer List to see impacts to their residence from a 10-, 25-, 50-, or 100-year storm event.   

“We want to make sure no one’s home is going to flood in a 100-year event,” he said.  

In addition to maintaining and updating the master model, C.J. and the technical services team he leads manage several of the City’s Flood Protection Program (FPP) projects at Seatack, First Colonial, Marsh Terrace in Back Bay and the Elizabeth River Wetlands Restoration. They also review development sites greater than 5 acres to evaluate flooding impacts upstream and downstream of the site.     

“We make sure the project itself works and has a stormwater system that is going to work,” he said.  

The master planning in place to prevent future flooding has led the City of Virginia Beach to be considered a frontrunner in stormwater design.  

“We’ve got people saying that our models are the best in the country. We’re on the cutting edge of what design should look like for stormwater,” C.J. said.   

For C.J. and the Technical Services division, the focus remains on solving flooding problems using the models as a master guide.   

“It’s exciting for us to know we can fix problems that people don’t think can be fixed,” C.J. said. “I love coming up with solutions to very difficult problems. That’s what we want to keep doing.”  

The Virginia Beach Flood Protection Program — The Ripple Effect — is a comprehensive 10-year plan to address recurrent flooding in Virginia Beach. In November 2021, Virginia Beach voters overwhelmingly supported a resiliency package for several key flood protection initiatives to include drainage improvements, tide gates, pump stations and flood barriers throughout the city. The projects are led by Public Works with support from a community oversight board for transparency and accountability. Learn more at

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Public Works Stormwater Engineering Center

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