ASFPM Comments on HUD Proposed Information Collection: Floodplain Management and Protection of Wetlands
ASFPM has responded to a notice by the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) for comments on proposed information collection related to Floodplain Management and Protection of Wetlands.
HUD sought comments on the decision-making procedures prescribed by Executive Order 11988 on floodplains and Executive Order 11990 on wetlands, with which applicants must comply before HUD financial assistance can be approved for projects that are located within floodplains.
The purpose of these Executive orders is explained in 24 CFR 55, as follows:
(a)(1) The purpose of Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management, is “to avoid to the extent possible the long and short-term adverse impacts associated with the occupancy and modification of floodplains and to avoid direct or indirect support of floodplain development wherever there is a practicable alternative.”
(2) The purpose of Executive Order 11990, Protection of Wetlands, is “to avoid to the extent possible the long- and short-term adverse impacts associated with the destruction or modification of wetlands and to avoid direct or indirect support of new construction in wetlands wherever there is a practicable alternative.”
We share here the general comments ASFPM provided to HUD:
- ASFPM strongly supports the purpose and full implementation of both of the subject Executive Orders in order to reduce future flooding and protect the natural functions of floodplains and wetlands that perform these functions naturally if not adversely impacted by human activity.
- Full implementation of these two executive orders have been instrumental in reducing flood losses and protecting natural ecosystems. These actions reduce taxpayer costs that would be necessary if development was allowed to adversely impact flooding and wetlands because those natural systems would no longer be in place. Development would be subject to more flooding and have to be rebuilt time and again at taxpayer costs.
- During the climate changes that are causing more intense rainfalls and stronger inland and coastal storms, flood levels are increasing dramatically. That makes it even more important that HUD consider these adverse impacts. It also means HUD must consider future conditions in its impact analysis. This includes considering how increased flood levels that can be anticipated during the lifetime of the proposed development or action being funded must be analyzed and accounted for. This includes both increased rainfall and sea level rise.
- We agree that nonstructural alternatives to floodplain development and the protection of wetlands are both favored and encouraged to reduce the loss of life and property caused by floods, and to restore the natural resources and functions of floodplains and wetlands. Nonstructural alternatives increase in value as the economic benefits of ecosystems are fully considered. We urge HUD to include those benefits just as FEMA does in its flood mitigation alternative analysis.
- ASFPM urges HUD to collaborate with other agencies in implementing the subject procedures. Many agencies, such as FEMA, USACE, SBA, EPA, NOAA, USDA and others are also doing these analyses and can share information and techniques. This can improve timelines and reduce costs for HUD.
Additionally, HUD asks for comments on the following four questions: our responses follow each question:
- Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;
ASFPM believes the collection of this information is essential for HUD to perform its duties that are subject to the subject executive orders.
- The accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information;
The estimates seem reasonable
- Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected;
Interagency collaboration, including close coordination with the states and locals where the proposed activity is located will greatly enhance the information collected
- Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond; including through the use of appropriate automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.
As explained earlier, working with other agencies along with affected states and locals will allow use of already existing data as well as automated collection techniques and appropriate technology.