Communities today are facing more challenges than ever before. From weather-related disasters and public health crises to needs for economic development, the demands on our communities’ limited resources are growing. This is where the work of the Naturally Resilient Communities partnership comes in.
This is the inaugural report on the state of local floodplain management programs throughout our nation. This report complements previously published reports issued in 1989, 1992, 1995, 2003 and 2010 that were primarily focused on floodplain management programs at the state level. We hope the material contained in this report will be a useful reference for those in the floodplain management community interested in local programs throughout the United States.
Coastal hazards have been a Great Lakes concern since high lake levels caused significant damage to coastal properties in the 1950s, the 1970s and again in the 1980s. During that period the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program funded projects to assess the coastal hazards on Lake Michigan and published Regulations to Reduce Coastal Erosion Losses (1981) by Doug Yanggen of the University of Wisconsin-Extension. The report identified local zoning and subdivision ordinance setback provisions to reduce risks associated with development on the Great Lakes coast.
Observed high water marks (HWM) that document historic flood events can be valuable data to reduce the uncertainty associated with predicated flood elevations and inundation areas on the extensive portions of the nation's streams that do not have stream gages. These HWMs are an extremely valuable compliment to the nation's streamgage data.
The Association of State Floodplain Managers is pleased to announce the release of a report titled, "A Strategy to Reduce the Risks and Impacts of Dams on Floodplain." This report includes an analysis of the relationship of dams to the floodplain and recommendations on how to better integrate dams into floodplain management and flood risk reduction activities. The development of this strategy document was funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Floodway Encroachment Standard: Minimizing Cumulative Adverse Impacts (2013)
Small encroachments into a floodplain in and of themselves may have a negligible impact on flood elevations. However, the combined, incremental effects of human activity, referred to as cumulative impacts, can cause significant increases in flooding. The National Flood Insurance Program attempts to address the cumulative impacts of encroachments into the floodplain through the use of a regulatory floodway. Federal minimum standards allow floodways to be developed based on the concept of allowing some encroachments, but limiting the increase in flood elevations caused by these encroachments to 1 foot.
44 § 60.1 (d) states: "The criteria set forth in this subpart are minimum standards for the adoption of floodplain management regulations by flood-prone, mudslide (i.e., mudflow)-prone and flood-related erosion-prone communities. Any community may exceed the minimum criteria under this part by adopting more comprehensive floodplain management regulations... Therefore, any floodplain management regulations adopted by a state or a community which are more restrictive than the criteria set forth in this part are encouraged and shall take precedence."
44 § 60.3 (a) (3) states that communities shall: "Review all permit applications to determine whether proposed building sites will be reasonably safe from flooding."
44 § 60.3 (d) states that communities shall: "Select and adopt a regulatory floodway based on the principle that the area chosen for the regulatory floodway must be designed to carry the waters of the base flood, without increasing the water surface elevation of that flood more than 1 foot at any point."
The Floodway Encroachment Standard: Minimizing Cumulative Adverse Impacts
Sample Letter Requesting Full Conveyance Floodway
Federal Emergency Management Agency. 1978. The Floodway: A Guide for Community Permit Officials. Community Assistance Series No. 4
Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 10. 2004. A Summary of NFIP Policy for Local Officials
Goddard, James, et. al. 1978. Origin and Rationale of Criterion Used in Designating Floodways
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 1990 Hydrologic Engineering Center and the Philadelphia District prepared for FEMA Region 3. Floodplain Management Information Series: A Special Report - Procedures for Compliance with Floodway Regulations
FEMA EMI HAZUS/GIS Course for Floodplain Managers (2012)
ASFPM assisted FEMA in the development of an EMI approved training course focusing on the use of HAZUS and GIS applications and technologies for floodplain management. ASFPM ensured the training met the needs of floodplain managers and objectively presents the benefits and limitations of HAZUS and GIS in flood risk reduction. This course is available at EMI, Polis Center and other locations around the country.
See E0176 Hazus Multi-Hazard for Floodplain Managers in the FY2014 EMI Course Catalog
The objectives of this project are to assess and make public, by way of a report, the status of state and local level floodplain management in the United States as of 2009, and to maintain the supporting data in a database for long-term use in establishing how states can assist communities to utilize increasingly effective approaches [e.g. No Adverse Impact]. These objectives are compatible with FEMA's goals of flood loss reduction and the overall mission of ASFPM to enhance and expand the practice of floodplain management and the NAI initiative to assist local communities to be proactive in understanding potential impacts and implementing mitigation programs before the impacts occur.
Link to Floodplain Management 2010: State & Local Programs Page
ASFPM carried out similar surveys in 1989, 1992, 1995 and 2003, making the time right for an updated understanding of how state level programs have changed during the past seven years. The FPM 2003 State & Local Programs report is available as a starting point.
The Effective States Floodplain Management Programs report is a companion document to the FPM 2003 report and a significant structure to the 2010 update. It compiles the components that have been the most "effective" in managing floodplains. "Effective" state floodplain management programs are those that are multi-faceted, having adequate enabling authority/legislation, elements of mapping, mitigation, community technical assistance and education/outreach, etc.
Flood Hazard Mapping Appeals Evaluation (2011)
ASFPM published a final report highlighting various options for reducing contentious appeals and disputes and improving community acceptance of flood engineering studies and maps produced by FEMA. The final report includes options for improving the effectiveness of FEMA's communications with state and local officials prior to and during the floodplain study and mapping process. ASFPM evaluated a listing of contentious appeals provided by FEMA and conducted additional research by gathering materials via the Internet, reviewing case files and interviewing community representatives. Download the final report below:
Strategies for Improving Community Acceptance of Flood Engineering Studies and Mapping
Montana Floodplain Management Assessment: Strengthening Policies and Programs that Reduce Flood Risk and Protect Floodplains (2011)
The purpose of this report is to evaluate tools (laws, policies, programs and practices) that the state of Montana and local governments could use to reduce flood damages and protect the natural and beneficial floodplain functions. These tools were evaluated and compared to best management practices, "No Adverse Impact" floodplain management and highly effective programs from other states and local governments. Attention was paid to any existing regulations, rules, standards and guidelines or other policies, programs and practices that inadvertently incentivize development in floodplains or allow adverse impacts to the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains.
Report - "Strengthening Policies and Programs that Reduce Flood Risk and Protect Floodplains"
HAZUS Comparative Analysis - Dane County, Wisconsin (2010)
ASFPM compared HAZUS flood damage estimates with NFIP claims from the June 2008 Flood Damages in Dane County. This is a pilot project to compare HAZUS estimates with NFIP flood damage claims at the building/structure level. Comparisons are also being made between the assessed property values and the HAZUS and NFIP values in an effort to understand the relationship between replacement costs, depreciated values and assessed values.
The report includes a comparison of results between the different datasets: HAZUS estimates, NFIP claims, assessed values, as well as issues and level of effort related to importing, preparing and running the HAZUS software.
Structure Level Flood Damage Analysis: NFIP & HAZUS
Technical Procedures & Issues: Importing User Defined Facilities into HAZUS
Comparing HAZUS Flood Loss Estimates Across Hazard Identification Methods and Building Stock Inventory Data
FloodManager Game - ASFPM Foundation (2009/2010)
ASFPM Science Services provided technical support and contract management to the ASFPM Foundation from the RFP phase through the design, development and implementation of the FloodManager Interactive Serious Game.
FEMA's Digital Transition - Map Mod Technical Support (2009)
The objective of this project was to (1) provide FEMA with a list of impediments or adverse impacts of limited paper map distribution, (2) present the current status of stakeholder understanding with regards to the digital transition and (3) to provide recommendations to FEMA that may be used to improve or modify the policies related to the digital transition. ASFPM surveyed selected members via a web-based survey and phone interviews to assess state and local capabilities to adopt and utilize digital FIRMs. Additionally, a review and evaluation of FEMA's Map Service Center's digital products and tools was conducted.
Report - "Moving to Digital Flood Hazard Data"
HAZUS Validation (2009)
The goal of this HAZUS Flood Model validation project was to assess the horizontal and vertical (flood depth) accuracy of the HAZUS generated floodplain boundary. To perform this assessment, ASFPM used the HAZUS-MH Flood Model and boundary delineation outputs and compared against detailed floodplain studies for three pilot areas, which included the following:
- Roan Gully and Willow Creek, Harris County, Texas
- Doby Creek and Mallard Creek, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
- Open and Bay Coastlines, Suffolk County, New York
The final report is now available:
Coastal Resiliency and Sea Level Rise - The Nature Conservancy (2009)
ASFPM is a core partner in the development and outreach of The Nature Conservancy's Coastal Resilience website. ASFPM assisted TNC in the evaluation of the socio-economic impacts of sea level rise and inundation on Long Island's Atlantic coast. Economic damage estimate were derived utilizing HAZUS with flood depth grids representing a range of sea level rise and storm surge scenarios developed by the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NOAA's Coastal Services Center and The Nature Conservancy.
The purpose of the Coastal Resilience project is to provide communities with easy access to information to assist in coastal planning and management decisions regarding resources at risk from sea level rise and coastal hazards. The framework developed for Long Island's Atlantic coast will be expanded to the larger region to include Long Island Sound in the near future.
Great Lakes Shoreline Oblique Imagery & Change Analysis (Lake Michigan) (2009)
ASFPM provided GIS technical support and web-mapping assistance associated with a project funded by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program. Dr. D. Mickelson (Professor Emeritus - Geology) at the University of Wisconsin - Madison utilized the oblique imagery to evaluate coastal erosion hazards and inventory shore protection structures for the Wisconsin shoreline on Lake Superior.
Link to Wisconsin Shoreline Inventory and Oblique Photo Viewer
Digital is Official - Map Mod Technical Support (2008)
ASFPM canvassed states and members to determine if there are state regulations that would need to be modified to enable "digital to be official" and how the digital FIRMs can best meet state and local government needs.
The final report is now available.
HAZUS Comparative Analysis (2008)
ASFPM compared HAZUS flood damage estimates against National Flood Insurance Program post-disaster claims data for several study areas around the country, which included Darlington and Thiensville, Wisconsin; Central Valley, California; Harris County, Texas and Pensacola, Florida. Additionally, damage estimates were compared across the 1%- and 0.2%-annual chance flood hazard boundaries generated by HAZUS based on varying input parameters (e.g., recurrence interval, specific discharge and topographic data).
Community Rating System (2008)
ASFPM interviewed states conducting Flood Insurance Study engineering reviews to obtain documentation for CRS credits.
Flood Map Modernization - Building State Capacity and Flood Map Update Processes (2008)
This report highlights how FEMA is partnering with states in flood hazard mapping and identifies opportunities for enhancing those partnerships with states. Specifically, this report discusses:
- States authorities related to floodplain management,
- how FEMA is partnering with states (focusing specifically on Flood Map Modernization)
- existing state technical capacity, and
- how FEMA can more fully take advantage of state government technical capability.
Flood Map Maintenance Best Practices (2007)
ASFPM was funded by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to assist with a FEMA Region V Best Practices project. ASFPM reviewed ongoing flood map maintenance pilot projects being funded by FEMA (Denver Urban Drainage and Flood Control District since 2001, and the state of North Carolina since 2006) and compiled a description of flood map maintenance procedures.
The final report is now available.
Coastal Erosion Hazard Project (2007)
ASFPM conducted an evaluation of state regulations related to coastal erosion and recommended actions needed for Wisconsin to effectively address buildings at risk due to coastal erosion.
The summary of coastal erosion setback regulations is now available.
Coastal NAI Handbook - NOAA (2007)
ASFPM produced a coastal specific handbook version of the No Adverse Impact Toolkit. Also produced was an overview document for decision makers and citizens to help them understand the impacts of development now and in the future. Phase II - Remove U.S. program specific portions of handbook, translate the handbook to Spanish and make this version available to relevant parties in Central America and other areas of the world.
Coastal No Adverse Impact Handbook (5/2007)
MAP MOD Technical Support - FEMA (2007)
ASFPM was tasked to determine the most cost effective techniques that meet quality standards for mapping Zone A floodplains, develop materials to help communities get prepared for FEMA's Flood Map Modernization, and develop training materials for local officials on the use of FEMA's new DFIRM geospatial dataset.
Certified Floodplain Manager Program - FEMA & USACE (2006)
Enhanced the CEC directory on website so that CFMs can determine CECs needed, courses available for credit with course locations identified. The members database was upgraded to allow members to log onto "members only" area of website. Training locations added to CEC directory. Member access to CEC directory is under development.
State Floodplain Management Five-Year Plans - FEMA (Phase II - 2006)
Scope: Phase I - Facilitate Work Group meeting to prepare guidance to states on developing CAP-SSSE five-year plans and develop gap analysis tool. Phase II - Review state CAP-SSSE five-year plans, summarize GAP analyzes submitted and propose how to make the gap analysis viable, compare plans to Effective State Program document, conduct a work group meeting and suggest revisions to CAP-SSSE five-year plan guidance. View state five-year plans here.
CTP Incentives for States-FEMA (2005)
ASFPM conducted a survey of states and prepared a summary report on how to encourage state and locals to take on CTP activities.
Report - "CTP Incentives for States"
Integrating Watershed & Pre-Disaster Mitigation Planning: Training Workshop - EPA (2005)
ASFPM developed workshop materials and presented the initial workshop at ASFPM's National Conference in 2005 on June 13th in Madison, WI.
Case Studies for Local Roadway Systems - American Lifelines Alliance (2005)
Local road systems are vital components of public infrastructure. ASFPM documented the decision-making factors and processes used by five communities, and identified best practices. The case studies characterized how local officials factor in pertinent regulatory requirements, as well as how they consider the full range of direct and indirect costs and direct and indirect benefits associated with the consideration of flood hazards into their decisions.
Flood Resistant Local Road Systems Appendix B: Allegany County, MD
No Adverse Impact Floodplain Management - Community Case Studies - Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI) & ASFPM Foundation (2004)
Flood damages throughout the nation are increasing. If communities only follow minimum national approaches, that trend will likely continue. In order to assist communities with better approaches for flood loss reduction, ASFPM developed the approach.
No Adverse Impact Floodplain Management - Community Case Studies - 2004 includes eleven examples of communities that have incorporated development approaches and other local actions based on No Adverse Impact (NAI) concepts that make sense to local land owners, developers and local decision makers.
Copies of this report were sent to all NFIP coordinators and State Hazard Mitigation Officers.
No Adverse Impact Floodplain Management - Community Case Studies 2004
NAI-Case Studies 2004 was based on ASFPM's No Adverse Impact Toolkit. This toolkit explains how communities can incorporate No Adverse Impact approaches in everyday activities like mapping, outreach, planning, regulation and development standards, mitigation, infrastructure, and emergency services.
No Adverse Impact, A Toolkit For Commonsense Floodplain Management (high-quality copies can be ordered from ASFPM)
Floodplain Management 2003 & Effective State Programs - FEMA
ASFPM, in cooperation with FEMA, has produced two documents important to state floodplain management programs. Copies were sent to all NFIP Coordinators.
Floodplain Management 2003-State and Local Programs
Updates and supplements previous reports issued in 1989, 1992 and 1995, and is the most complete national tally of the practices by which state and local governments manage their floodplains.
Effective State Floodplain Management Programs
Compiles the components that have been the most "effective" in managing floodplains. "Effective" state floodplain management programs are those that are multi-faceted, having adequate enabling authority/legislation, elements of mapping, mitigation, community technical assistance, and education/outreach, etc., etc.