THE NEWSLETTER OF THE FLOODPLAIN MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION 2022 - Volume 32, Issue 3
WATER MARK The Newsletter of the Floodplain Management Association August 2022 - Volume 32, Issue 3 Mission: To promote the common interest in reducing flood losses and to encourage the protection and enhancement of natural floodplain values.
Chair Mike Nowlan Wood Rodgers, Inc. 916.326.5277
Director Darren Suen Central Valley Flood Protection Board 916.574.0609
Advisor Stefani Lukashov California Geological Survey 916.445.1825
Vice Chair Brent Siemer City of Simi Valley 805.583.6805
Director Millicent Cowley-Crawford Woodard & Curran 415.321.3421
Advisor Salomon Miranda California DWR 818.549.2347
Secretary Vince Geronimo Mead & Hunt 916.993.4606
Director Kyle Gallup Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District 951.955.1265
Advisor Cindy Matthews NOAA 916.979.3041
Treasurer Connie Perkins-Gutowsky California DWR 916.973.3008 Past Chair Alex Yescas HDR, Inc. 858-712-8283
Director Pat Wood Los Angeles County DPW 626.458-6131 Director Roger Leventhal Marin County DPW 415.473.3249
Advisor Eric Simmons FEMA Region IX 510.627.7029 Advisor Erin Warnock Nevada DWR 775.684.2890
Director Abigail Mayrena Clark County RFCD 702-685-0000
Director Megan LeRoy California DWR
Advisor Jeanne Ruefer HWC, Inc. 775.722.7395
Director John Moynier Parsons Corporation
Director David Smith WEST Consultants, Inc. 858.487.9378
Advisor Carol Tyau-Beam Hawaii DLNR 808.587.0267
Advisor Kelly Soule California DWR 916.574.1205
Executive Director Mary Seits FMA 760.936.3676
Director Ann Bechtel CDM Smith 760.710.4663 Director Brian Brown California DWR
Advisor Jose Lara CA Governor’s Office of Emergency Services 916.845.8883
A Note From The Chair Federal/National News State News Meet The Board - Stefani Lukashov Call For Articles FMA Board Agency Report - NOAA/NWS FEMA’s NFIP Reform Legislative Proposals Flood – MAR – Living in the Land of the “Dash”
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A NOTE FROM THE CHAIR Michael Nowlan Greetings Floodplain Managers, The FMA Annual Conference is nearly here! As the Chair of FMA I would like to extend the warmest of invitations to anyone interested in attending our world class conference in Sacramento, California. It will be in person this year, so please join us and join the conversations, asking questions and interacting with all of our attendees, speakers, panelists and technical presenters. In the month of August, we asked all of our members to remember to vote on the different nominees seeking positions on the Board of Directors. While I plan on elaborating on the subject of board positions and voting in the conference, our entire board has had many meaningful discussions about making the whole process more transparent and more inclusive. The leadership of the board (Chair and Vice-Chair) must be chosen from among the serving board members (not the general membership) to ensure that leadership is experienced on the workings of FMA. This was burned into our DNA by our founding members. There is also an intentional progression through leadership to ensure that knowledge/experience on all administrative matters is maximized before taking on the responsibility of leadership. For board positions that can be filled by anyone within the general membership, there should be, and will be, more open competition whenever there are people who have interest in serving on the board, which we want to encourage! Of course, some positions are purposely limited to specific regions, or public/private/professional affiliations, to get a diverse representation of our membership. If at some point we need to have primaries elections first, to whittle it down to two candidates for each position in the final election, then I will faint in delight on that day! So, come on everyone, I challenge you, make me faint! There is lots to be done and we definitely need our entire membership contributing to help keep our association thriving. There really are too many issues to expound upon in this letter to you all. I can say that we have made a commitment to address social justice and diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in our conference, and we have formed a board subcommittee to come up with a game plan moving forward as an association. It is not an easy task, but it an extremely important one. The best way to become more informed about FMA is to attend the conference sessions, and attend the membership meeting at the luncheon. There will be many opportunities to join what’s going on, including a lunch on Tuesday for those interested in joining an existing committee, or, if you’re really inspired, to champion a whole new committee to address an exciting new topic. The sky is the limit, so see you all there! Cheers! Mike Nowlan
5 SAVE THE DATE Floodplain Management Association Annual Conference September 6-9, 2022 Sacramento Hyatt Regency
FEDERAL/NATIONAL NEWS For an update of the latest disaster declarations: CLICK HERE For information on Flood Insurance Reform – Rates and Refunds: CLICK HERE
Advisor Update FEMA Updates for FMA Board: •
A campaign to improve building codes and enforcement of hazard-resistant building standards is comprised of 14 objectives focused on leveraging partnerships, amplifying climate science messaging, and targeting code adoption outreach to the most vulnerable communities.
FEMA announced partial implementation of the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, or FFRMS, for the Public Assistance program on June 3, 2022. FFRMS increases resilience to flooding by requiring a higher set of elevations for a federal action in the floodplain. On May 24, 2021, Executive Order 14030 on climate-related financial risk reinstated FFRMS.
FEMA published its first equity plan to meet the needs of underserved communities and address disparities in program outcomes.
Legislative proposals for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) released in May include 17 changes to the program to improve resilience and fiscal soundness. FEMA’s proposal, which must make their way through Congress before becoming law, includes nationwide flood disclosure, prohibition on NFIP insurance for new buildings in the SFHA, and non-renewal for a property with four claims of at least $10,000 each. This will be discussed more during the annual conference in September.
The National Flood Insurance Program is authorized through September 30, 2022. All policies and flood insurance renewals are transitioning to updated Risk Rating 2.0 rates.
The 2022 annual maintenance cycle announcement provides a summary of all the planned changes to Risk MAP guidance and standards this year. Comments are welcome July 7 to August 5. FEMA plans to publish revised standards around November 2022.
California News Groundbreaking Marks Largest Floodplain Salmon Rearing Habitat Project in California History, June 23, 2022 Federal and state agencies broke ground on June 23 on a project that will become the single largest floodplain salmon rearing habitat restoration in California history. The Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation are partnering on the “Big Notch Project,” a 30,000-acre floodplain habitat restoration and fish passage project in the Yolo Bypass in Yolo County. The project will expand floodplain rearing habitat for juvenile salmon and improve access through the bypass for salmon and sturgeon, which is pivotal to the recovery of these threatened and endangered fish species. Project information: https://water.ca.gov/Programs/ Integrated-Science-and-Engineering/RestorationMitigation-Compliance/Yolo-Bypass-Projects
Groundbreaking Celebrates California’s Largest Tidal Habitat Restoration Project, June 30 On June 30, state, federal, and local agencies gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of the largest tidal habitat restoration project in California history. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) and Ecosystem Investment Partners (EIP) are teaming up on the Lookout Slough Tidal Habitat Restoration and Flood Improvement Project in Solano County. It is a multi-benefit effort to restore the site to a tidal wetland, creating habitat and producing food for Delta Smelt and other fish species while also creating new flood capacity in the Yolo Bypass and reducing overall flood risk in the Sacramento area. The Lookout Slough project is located west of Liberty Island Ecological Reserve in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Part of the massive project includes constructing a new, 25-foot-tall setback levee,
excavating 20 miles of open tidal channels, restoring native habitat through grading, fill placement, and natural revegetation, degrading the Shag Slough Levee to match the elevation of a 10-year storm event, and breaching exterior levees at multiple locations around the site. Construction of the project is expected to be completed in late 2024. The Lookout Slough project is unique in that it shows the effectiveness of innovative public-private partnerships to deliver accelerated landscape scale restoration, which is critical to supporting wildlife and the environment against climate-driven impacts. Project information: https://water.ca.gov/Programs/ Integrated-Science-and-Engineering/RestorationMitigation-Compliance/Delta-Projects
Funding and Grants DWR Allocates Funds for Delta-Mendota Canal Repairs (April) The California Department of Water Resources signed an agreement to award $3.3 million in funding to the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority to repair segments of the Delta-Mendota Canal (DMC) in the San Joaquin Valley that have been damaged by land subsidence. The Delta-Mendota Canal, which conveys water over 116 miles from its headworks in Byron to its outlet in Mendota, plays a critical role in delivering water to 1.2 million acres of farmland in the San Joaquin, San Benito, and Santa Clara valleys. It also delivers water to more than 2 million Californians and approximately 150,000 acres of managed wetlands important to the Pacific Flyway. The Delta-Mendota Canal is one of four projects that will receive funds as part of a $100 million initiative in the California Budget Act of 2021 to improve water conveyance systems in the San Joaquin Valley. Project information: https://water.ca.gov/News/ News-Releases/2022/April-22/DWR-Allocates-Fundsfor-Delta-Mendota-Canal-Repairs Continued on next page FMA NEWS
STATE NEWS (Continued) Publication 2022 Central Valley Flood Protection Plan Update The 2022 CVFPP Update evaluates progress made since passage of major State bonds in 2007 and recommends future management actions led by State, federal, and local partners to continue implementation of the CVFPP. The 2022 CVFPP Update focuses on three key themes: • Climate resilience • Performance tracking • Alignment with other State efforts The 2022 CVFPP Update continues to build on the significant amount of work completed over the past 15 years to better understand and develop priorities to improve flood risk management in the Central Valley. Using new information, updated science, and innovative tools, it recommends priority actions to address flood risk in the face of climate change. Development of the 2022 CVFPP Update was informed by a robust, multi-year communications and engagement process that involved frequent discussions with State, federal, Tribal, and local partners. The public draft was released for public comment in April. Comments on the public draft were submitted to DWR in early June. The final report is slated for release in late 2022. More information: https://water.ca.gov/Programs/ Flood-Management/Flood-Planning-and-Studies/Central-Valley-Flood-Protection-Plan
Upcoming Events 2022 Watershed University Webinar: Rise to Leadership and Importance of Succession Planning, July 19 (11:30 am-12:30 pm) Have you ever wondered how industry leaders get to where they are? What happens to the years of experience and expertise when those individuals leave or retire? Join us to hear from two leaders in the water resources industry tell their stories and learn about some of the challenges they’ve encountered over the years. Reggie Hill was the manager of the Lower San Joaquin Levee FMA NEWS
District and Chris Elias is the Executive Director, San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency. The California Silver Jackets Team and FMA Emerging Professionals are partnering to host a series of Watershed University webinars focusing on leadership and soft skills for emerging professionals in the water resources field. Register here.
California Flood Preparedness Week 2022: October 22-29 The eleventh annual California Flood Preparedness Week (CFPW) will be held from October 22-29, 2022. Federal, state, and local agencies will work together to inform Californians about the types of flooding that impact their communities and share ways to reduce their flood risk. If you have questions about CFPW, contact: Nikki Blomquist, Program Coordinator: Nikki.Blomquist@water.ca.gov; Jason Ince, Public Affairs: Jason.Ince@water.ca.gov Event information
Upcoming NFIP Workshops The City of Oceanside will be hosting three workshops in October. Registration information • October 4: NFIP and Duties of the Local Administrator • October 5: FEMA Elevation Certificate • October 6: CFM Exam
Questions? Nikki Blomquist, Advisor California Department of Water Resources Nikki.Blomquist@water.ca.gov (916) 820-7749 Salomon Miranda – Advisor California Department of Water Resources Salomon.Miranda@water.ca.gov (818) 549-2347
Hawaii See the latest news stories relating to Hawaii’s floodplain management issues. For the transformed flood information platform from Hawaii visit their exciting weekly blog at https://waihalana.hawaii.gov/ Some of the latest postings relate to hurricane preparedness, stewarding our environment, and Flood Insurance. For archived Wai Halana Newsletters (prior to 2018) https://dlnreng.hawaii.gov/nfip/wai-halana/
Nevada With the beautiful weather over past couple of months The Nevada Floodplain Management Program has been at several different outreach events in northern Nevada from the Reno River Fest to Elko Environmental Education Day. A remarkable event that we attended and helped coordinate was the Reno High Water Mark sign unveiling event in May. This sign resides at Wingfield Park along the Truckee River in Reno, Nevada, and marks the height of the flood waters from the 1997 flood at its location. We are looking forward to several more upcoming events in late summer and fall including the Carson City High Water Mark unveiling. Then just around the corner is our 9th annual Flood Awareness Week; November 13th-19th. Nevada Silver Jackets projects are underway! During the week leading up to Flood Awareness Week there will be a virtual forum that will focus current aspects of Floodplain Management in Nevada from current projects to changes in the NFIP. We are also working on creating an informational pamphlet for teachers that summarize all of the standard classroom curriculum we have created to go hand in hand with our virtual outreach materials. This pamphlet and all other materials will then be accessible on our newly
renovated website; Nevadafloods.org. In addition to those projects, we will also be hosting mitigation workshops with our first one taking place in Washoe County on September 22nd. The mitigation workshops will focus on specific local mitigation efforts underway and examples of succusses. Lastly the Nevada Silver Jackets are preparing some Floodplain Management Plans for a few watersheds that contain dams that are eligible to apply for the Rehabilitation of High Hazard Potential Dams (HHPD) grant program. The Nevada Floodplain Management Program is in the beginning of a new grant cycle and is working toward creating a timeline for trainings and Community Assistance Contacts/Community Assistance Visits throughout the year. We are looking forward to being able to offer trainings in person and touch base with more communities than we ever have before Our goal is to get our communities on a 5-year cycle for Community Assistance Contacts/Community Assistance Visits. This requires Nevada’s State Coordinator to complete a combination of 12 Community Assistance Contacts/Community Assistance Visits.
MEET THE BOARD - Stefani Lukashov Engineering Geologist, Sacramento, CA Stefani Lukashov is an Engineering Geologist in the California Geological Survey’s (CGS) Forest Watershed and Geology program in Sacramento, CA. Stefani received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology from the University of California, Davis in 2017 and started with CGS as a student assistant before promoting to an Engineering Geologist in 2019. Her primary work has revolved around assessing post-fire debris flow hazards on alluvial fan floodplains. She has been heavily involved in evaluating the Montecito post-fire debris flows of 2018, which research has been published in Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists, and Environmental & Engineering Geology journals. Stefani has participated in several rapid Watershed Emergency Response Team investigations evaluating downstream impacts of wildfire regarding risk to life, property, and habitat due to debris flows, flooding, and rockfalls that may occur during post-fire storms. Currently, she is involved in a collaboration project with the Department of Water Resources to evaluate pre-fire alluvial fan hazards and develop post-fire emergency management planning tools with a life-safety focus.
CALL FOR ARTICLES!
The FMA Newsletter welcomes the input of its members and now our extended family of readership to contribute to the conversation! Keep the great articles coming! We need to hear from all of you. There’s always room for more to join the ranks of published authors. Showcase your programs, projects, tools, policies, regulations or ideas to hundreds of floodplain management professionals throughout the U.S.! Articles must be submitted in Word format to Mary.Seits@Floodplain.org and may contain 2-3 small pictures. Preferred length is less than 850 words. For more details call (760) 936-3676.
THERE IS A RIGHT WAY TO DO THINGS. AND THERE IS A NEW WAY TO DO THINGS.
AND SOMETIMES THEY’RE EXACTLY THE
FMA NEWS WWW.WOODRODGERS.COM
FMA BOARD AGENCY REPORT - NOAA/NWS Alan Haynes, Hydrologist in Charge, California Nevada River Forecast Center Alex Chen Selected for HydrologicForecaster Position at the CNRFC Alex Chen has been selected as a hydrologic forecaster for the California Nevada River Forecast Center in Sacramento, arriving August 15th. Alex received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Virginia in 2022. His research focused on harnessing crowdsourced rainfall data to address water resource management challenges and mitigate flooding impacts. He has published papers in Water Resource Research and Journal of Hydrology. Prior to his Ph.D. studies, he worked as a professional hydraulic engineer in Taiwan for three years, with primary duties of developing hydrologic and hydraulic analysis and design for transportation and water infrastructures. Outside of work, he enjoys shooting pool, playing tennis, lifting weights, trail running, attending community events, and spending time with his family. He is excited to join the CNRFC and looking forward to working with the team. Alex Chen and his family
Ken Graham Selected as Director of the National Weather Service Ken Graham was selected as the 17th director of the National Weather Service (NWS), effective June 7th. He was preceded by Dr. Louis Uccelini who retired at the end of 2021. “Ken has the scientific integrity, trusted leadership, and communication prowess that will take the National Weather Service to even greater heights,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “I have full confidence that he will help create a more weatherand climate-ready nation amid more extreme weather fueled by our changing climate.”
“What an incredible honor it is to serve alongside the heroes of the National Weather Service whose excellence shines through day after day,” said Graham. “I thank Dr. Spinrad for entrusting me with the awesome responsibility and privilege of leading this dedicated team at such an exciting and important time in our history. We’ll accomplish great things together by building on recent progress and prioritizing support of our forecasters. I can’t wait to get started.” Prior to his selection as director of the NWS, Graham served as the director of the National Hurricane Center since 2018. He has a vast amount of operational field experience, starting out as an intern meteorologist in 1994 at the New Orleans/Baton Rouge weather forecast office. Before joining the National Hurricane Center, Graham served as the meteorologistin-charge of the NWS’ New Orleans/Baton Rouge office for 10 years. He notably established two command centers in the wake of the Deepwater Ken Graham, NWS Director Horizon oil spill in 2010 that provided forecasts to help authorities make critical decisions in the five months following the spill. Graham also led the effort to support decision makers in Louisiana and Mississippi with services focused on expected impacts for hurricanes Gustav, Ike, Isaac, and during the historic 2017 season. Graham earned a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in geoscience from Mississippi State University. He was recently named the “2022 Weatherperson of the Year” by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes and was a 2021 finalist for the Partnership for Public Service’s Samuel J. Heyman
Service to America Medal. Graham is a member of the American Meteorological Society, the National Weather Association and the International Association of Emergency Managers. A native of Phoenix, Graham and his wife, Laura, have three daughters. Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA) The recently passed congressional infrastructure bill authorizes $492 million over five years for a few key National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) water-related improvements: 1. Real-Time Coastal and Inland Forecast Flood Inundation Mapping- NOAA will collect and integrate high-resolution bathymetric and topographic data by aircraft and vessel to advance and implement flood inundation forecasting and mapping capabilities and related services. 2. Update and Revise Precipitation Frequency Atlases for the U.S. including Probable Maximum Precipitation- The NWS will conduct updates and revisions accounting for climate change and these data will be publicly available. NOAA Atlas 14 precipitation frequency and probable maximum precipitation estimates are critical to design and construction of all infrastructure. 3. Improve Overall Forecasting Skill and Services through the Next Generation of NOAA’s National Water Model Framework- NOAA will couple advanced inland and coastal models used to generate total water level forecasts and flood inundation maps for rivers and coast, and incorporate water quality. Continued on next page
FMA BOARD AGENCY REPORT NOAA/NWS
Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology
The cooperative institute will focus on four research themes:
NOAA has selected the University of Alabama to host a new cooperative institute focused on accelerating research and enhancing collaboration. The goal of this new institute will be to improve the agency's ability to provide actionable water resource information for forecasts, watches, warnings and related products to protect life and property and strengthen the national economy.
• Expansion and improvement of water resources prediction capabilities. • Advancement and acceleration of community water resources modeling. • Application of social, economic and behavioral science to water resource products and services. • Advancement of hydroinformatics, which is the application of information and communication technologies to address increasingly serious issues of equitable and efficient use of water for different purposes.
The new research venture is called the Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology, or CIROH. “The new cooperative institute will work with NOAA to research and develop state-of-the-science water analysis, forecasts and guidance and the equitable delivery of decision-support services,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “This program will train the next generation of scientists focused on addressing water issues and emergencies on all time scales, helping NOAA build a Climate Ready Nation that is responsive and resilient in a changing world.” The selection comes with an award of up to $360 million over the course of five years, with the potential for renewal for another five years based on successful performance. Funding is contingent upon the availability of federal appropriations. NOAA selected the University of Alabama as the host for the cooperative institute after an open, competitive evaluation. The campus is also home to NOAA’s National Water Center, the nation’s research to operations center of excellence for water resources science and services.
“Flooding is a coast-to-coast threat, often generated by prolonged or extreme precipitation," said Mary C. Erickson, deputy director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. "This new cooperative institute and its research partners will help us develop and test new tools and methods to meet community needs for highresolution water predictions and actionable scenarios to build local resilience.” Erickson added that the institute's close proximity to the National Water Center on the University of Alabama campus will enable the highest level of collaboration to accelerate innovation and research to operations. NOAA supports 20 cooperative institutes consisting of 70 universities and research institutions in 28 states and the District of Columbia. These research institutions provide strong educational programs that promote student and postdoctoral scientist involvement in NOAA-funded research.
FEMA’S NFIP REFORM LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has submitted to the U.S. Senate a 104-page transmittal containing 17 legislative proposals to reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). First, the good news on the proposed reforms: • Renew the NFIP for a 10-year period (up to September 30, 2031). • Cancel the NFIP’s $20 billion debt to the Federal Treasury and eliminate interest on future NFIP debt. • Make changes in flood risk mapping and flood hazard information by expanding beyond just mapping, giving FEMA more flexibility to identify flood hazard and flood risk information and recognizing that maps are only one aspect of providing flood hazard information. Separate the regulatory requirements related to the identification of the Special Flood Hazard Areas from the delivery of non-regulatory flood hazard information in order to expedite the delivery of such information. • Increase the NFIP’s maximum coverage limits for structures and contents and index them to Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac conforming loan limits (currently $647,200 for 1-4 unit residences) so that they can adjust periodically with housing costs. There would be coverage limitations for pre-FIRM structures, with coverage a bit more in “high cost areas” (Alaska,
Hawaii, Virgin Islands and Guam). FEMA would adjust the coverage amounts every 5 years to keep pace with future structure values; FEMA would not be allowed to decrease the coverage amounts. • Enable policyholders to purchase higher coverage limits to cover the cost of complying with floodplain management ordinances or laws. The Increased Cost of Compliance Coverage (ICC), which is part of the current statutory cap on NFIP policy coverage, would be replaced with Flood Compliance and Mitigation Coverage (FCM) of up to 20 percent of and in addition to the statutory coverage cap (an amount of $50,000 for residences, based on the current $250,000 cap). Additionally, FEMA would be allowed to pay the FCM loss up-front to policyholders, and policyholders would be allowed to assign their FCM claim for cost-share purposes for FEMA post-disaster grants to states and communities. • Establish a means-tested assistance program, including a three-to five-year pilot program, offering a graduated discount benefit to all current and potential policyholders, regardless of their mortgage status or flood zone, who have a household income at or below 120% of Area Median Income.
17 • Require NFIP communities to establish specified minimum flood-risk reporting requirements for sellers and lessors before residential transactions close. Information would include: actual knowledge of flood damage to structures on the property; FEMA designation as a repetitive loss property; prior flood insurance claims (NFIP or private); Federal obligation to obtain and maintain flood insurance; flood risk as indicated by FEMA’s flood hazard data; and availability and approximate cost of flood insurance. • Remove barriers to switching to private flood insurance policies. Allow private flood insurance coverage to satisfy any continuous coverage requirements imposed by the NFIP, and allow an individual to move to private flood insurance without the risk of losing premium discounts should they decide to return to NFIP flood insurance. To offset the cost of the above proposals, there are also the following proposals: • Decrease the NFIP’s borrowing authority to twothirds of total expected premiums in force in the following fiscal year, which will demark the 1-in20 occurrence exceedance loss level (currently $10.5 billion) as the upper limit of an event the NFIP is capable of managing. Also, replace the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability
Act Surcharge on NFIP flood insurance policies with an increase of the Reserve Fund Assessment on flood insurance policies (currently at 18% of the premium). If a flood event exceeds the 1-in20 occurrence exceedance loss level limit, then FEMA will request Congress for an emergency supplemental appropriation. • Create separate classes for coastal versus inland flood zones in the NFIP’s rate tables, to acknowledge the differences between coastal and inland areas in both the frequency and severity of flooding due to velocity and wave action. • Use a building’s replacement cost value when assigning premium rates, thus reducing crosssubsidies of insurance rates and indicate to customers the true flood risk of their structures. • Create a new category of Excessive Loss Properties (XLPs), defined as structures with four or more paid losses of at least $10,000 each, and prevent FEMA from offering coverage for XLPs. A property’s past claim/loss history would be “grandfathered” and not count towards the XLP status. Only qualifying losses after enactment of the statute would be considered. Structures made compliant with state and local floodplain management requirements would be allowed to drop the XLP designation. Continued on next page
FEMA’S NFIP REFORM LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS • Prohibit NFIP coverage for new construction in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) and new NFIP polices for all non-residential commercial properties, regardless of flood zone. FEMA states the intent is to promote the growth of the private market by creating an inventory for new flood risk properties for which private insurance companies could compete. FEMA may temporarily make NFIP insurance available in participating NFIP communities for newly constructed residential structures in SFHAs and non-residential commercial properties, if the state’s insurance regulator determines that affordable private flood insurance is not available. NFIP insurance would no longer be made available once affordable private insurance becomes available. • Codify and clarify the existing NFIP appeal authorities. Require policyholders to exhaust the NFIP appeals process on denials or partial denials of claims prior to filing a lawsuit in federal court, and allow only 90 days after exhausting the appeals process to file suit. FEMA is allowed up to 365 days from receipt to make a determination on a policyholder’s appeal. So, FMA members may during the course of their work want to ask themselves some questions: • Are the proposed changes in flood risk mapping and flood hazard information going to result in less or more confusion for members of the public with non-technical backgrounds? • Are the proposed increases in NFIP policy and FCM coverage sufficient for policyholders in high cost states like California and Hawaii? • In addition to a graduated discount on flood insurance, should FEMA offer a monthly payment option for low- to moderate-income policyholders?
• Would the proposed Federal disclosure requirements on NFIP communities have an adverse impact on CRS classifications for communities in states like California, which get CRS credits for the state’s disclosure requirements? • Will the new 1-in-20 occurrence exceedance loss level limit on flood events and use of buildings’ replacement cost value in setting premiums put at a disadvantage high cost states like California and Hawaii? • Are the proposed new coastal area and XLP classifications going to place an undue burden on low-to moderate-income policyholders? Are California policyholders going to be sooner classified as XLPs, due to the high cost of repair or reconstruction, even though the premiums California policyholders pay out exceed the amount of claims FEMA has paid to California policyholders? Regarding the proposed prohibitions on NFIP flood insurance availability, what impact will the prohibitions have on low-to moderate-income policyholders in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) and small businesses? Does the definition of “new construction” in SFHAs include work associated with substantial improvements or repair of substantial damage (SI/SD), or flood and other climate resiliency retrofits(seismic, fire, solar)? What about properties that become newly mapped into SFHAs during the course of already permitted construction? What happens to the policyholders if private companies decide to exit an area after entering it? Will the proposed prohibition on NFIP insurance availability encourage communities to employ more structural flood control measures to get more land out of SFHA designations? It will be very interesting to see how these NFIP reform proposals wend their way through Congress. Stay tuned!
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FLOOD – MAR – LIVING IN THE LAND OF THE “DASH” Michael Nowlan What’s this all about? That’s probably the question you’re asking yourself in reading the title of this article. Well, let me explain. The concept of Flood-Managed Aquifer Recharge, or Flood-MAR, is a HOT item in our circles, almost like a magic pill in some people’s view. Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to “poo-poo” the idea. Far from it. What I would like to explore is the interconnections between flood management and aquifer recharge management, represented in the “-“ that connects and/or separates the terms within the name of this wonderful concept/program. Alright, I will try and stop myself from adding too many dashes and slashes from here forward. I shall resist! There is no doubt much potential for synergy between the two concepts, but there may be some wrinkles in marrying these two things together that should be thought through. Both of these concepts deal with the control of storm runoff. Fundamentally, each approach warrants both emptying basins and filling basins at different times and for different purposes. Where and when one moves water is very important in making these concepts work in concert. Allow me to elaborate. At their most basic levels, flood management is about the management of flood volume, and managed aquifer recharge is about the management of water supply volume. At this point some of you familiar with reservoir operations may understand where I am going. The management of flood volume is all about getting the water downstream safely, but quickly. Of course, there can be some detaining aspects associated with flood management, where water must “hang out” for a bit before being released downstream. Usually this has to do with limited capacities of downstream “conveyance” and “storage” facilities. (Hey, I promised to stay away from the dashes and slashes, but quotation marks are still on the table!) In order for flood management to work, the flood facilities need to be “empty” to have the capacity that is needed before the next flood hits. Therefore, flood management needs to “drain” the system, safely and efficiently.
The management of aquifer recharge is all about getting the water into the ground for future water supply, and detaining it on the surface until it can infiltrate, which can take longer periods of time. The water not only needs to occupy the surface areas, but achieving that “occupation” can necessitate building impoundment structures in the floodplain, to prevent it from draining. For aquifer recharge to really work well, the diversion of water into the floodplain needs to be more “constant” and “frequent”. Therefore, the diversion facilities need to control flow amounts in lower flow ranges. So, how can they work together? At the point(s) of diversion, the facilities need to be configured with both lower flow and higher flow controls, to allow for recharge flows to occur under a wide range of flow conditions, while also allowing very high flow releases during floods. This could include installation of movable check structures in-stream, that can be raised up under lower flow conditions to divert recharge water and lowered under higher flow conditions to allow flood waters to pass downstream safely. This could also include more elaborate stream bank facilities for off-stream facilities that involve both overflow weirs and pipes with controllable gates that are protected from erosion and debris. Lastly, the management of off-channel surface storage could include monitoring and forecasting big storms and operating drainage structures to drain the surface areas before the flood, if such facilities serve both a flood and recharge role. After all, the same volume of space cannot be both empty and full at the same time. Obviously, this article is only scratching the surface regarding these two concepts. There is much to think about in marrying these two together, but there should be no reason to call it off. We cannot know everything there is to know before moving forward. As it is with most things in life, working together involves partnership and risk. In my opinion, these two were made for each other. So, hand in hand, side by side, “Flood” and “MAR” are ready to take the plunge! (For the record, water puns were never off the table!)
WATER MARK The Newsletter of the Floodplain Management Association