Weather

There are more options to flood-risk management than levees and flood walls

by | Jul 10, 2019 | ASFPM, News & Views

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: https://transportation.house.gov/committee-activity/hearings/the-subcommittee-on-water-resources-and-environment-hearing-on_–water-resources-development-acts-status-of-implementation-and-assessing-future-needs

ASFPM’s full
written testimony for the hearing titled, “WRDA: Status of Implementation and Assessing Future Needs” can be viewed here: https://www.floods.org/ace-images/WRDAStatus_HouseTandI_7-10-19.pdf.

Author