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Association of State Flood Plain Managers

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There are more options to flood-risk management than levees and flood walls
Wednesday, July 10, 2019

WASHINGTON D.C.To meet today's challenges of riverine and coastal flooding in an era of more frequent and severe storms, sea level rise, and skyrocketing disaster costs, it is important that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers take a broad, comprehensive and watershed-based view of overall flood-risk management.

Chad Berginnis, executive director of the Association of State Floodplain Managers, will be stressing this point, along with other policy recommendations, during a hearing before the congressional Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment at 10 a.m. Eastern, July 10 at the Rayburn House Office Building. The subcommittee is part of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Some of his testimony will focus on the benefits of natural and nonstructural flood-mitigation approaches to flood-risk management such as buyouts, relocating homes in flood-prone areas and elevating buildings. These types of projects are often less expensive and more sustainable than more traditional structural projects like levees and flood walls that also sometimes have unintended consequences, like increasing flood hazards upstream, downstream and across the river. The operation and maintenance costs are often exceeding communities' ability to pay, which is their obligation.

Highlights of Berginnis' testimony and ASFPM's recommendations to the subcommittee include:

Congress should set policy on decision making that will result in natural infrastructure being a preferred alternative due to its multi-benefit approach.

Congress and the Corps should adopt policies for new or reconstruction of levees that are set back from the water's edge to preserve riparian areas, reduce erosion and scour, reduce flood levels and flooding risks, and allow natural floodplain ecosystems to better absorb floodwaters.

Congress should mandate that inundation mapping developed by the federal government and/or associated with federal programs for dams and levees be made publically available.

ASFPM urges strong, continued federal oversight to make sure levees are built to a level approved by FEMA, the Corps or state programs or regulations, and it must be adequately enforced.

Congress and the Corps should remove bias towards structural projects and against nonstructural projects.

The hearing can be watched live beginning at 10 a.m. July 10 here:

ASFPMs full written testimony for the hearing titled, "WRDA: Status of Implementation and Assessing Future Needs" can be viewed here:

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