The Association of State Floodplain Managers applauds yesterday’s introduction of the Flood Resiliency and Taxpayer Savings Act of 2020. The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Representatives David E. Price (D-NC) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY), would help safeguard communities and infrastructure by ensuring that federally funded projects, such as roads, schools, and hospitals, address flood risk throughout the duration of their design lives.
ASFPM was among the 32 organizations that signed a letter on Sept. 30th urging Congress to pass the legislation. Read the letter.
“Our current approach to managing flood risk is wrong,” said Chad Berginnis, executive director of ASFPM. “We use yesterday’s data to build tomorrow’s housing and infrastructure and much of that may have a useful life of 80, 90 or 100+ years. What will flood risk be like then? The Flood Resiliency and Taxpayer Savings Act of 2020 would do much to ensure that we aren’t wasting taxpayer dollars and burdening future generations.”
Flooding is the most common and expensive natural disaster in the United States, straining the resources of governments at all levels. Recent catastrophic flooding events underscore the need for a cost-effective disaster risk management strategy.
At the end of the day it’s the American taxpayer that foots most of the bill for the increasingly costly cycle of flooding, damage, and repair. The Flood Resiliency and Taxpayer Savings Act offers a common sense, good government, approach that can reduce that burden by better safeguarding our communities and infrastructure from future storms.
Specifically, the bill:
- Directs federal agencies to consider and plan for futureflood risk as they evaluate spending federal dollars, including the entire lifespan of a project.
- Requires agency leaders, for projects that are currently or in the future will be in flood-prone areas, to use the best available data about current and future flood risk including FEMA maps, state and local data, hydrologic studies, and other information.
- In the absence of concrete data, ensures agencies incorporate appropriate safeguards to shield communities (and federal investment) from future damage and loss—such as structure elevation, hardening, nature-based systems, or other mitigation strategies.
Representatives Price and Zeldin released the following statements upon introduction:
“Coastal and inland flooding have plagued North Carolina communities in recent years, many of which are still struggling to recover after unprecedented levels of destruction,” said Representative David Price, Chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee. “These major flooding events will only become more common. The Flood Resiliency and Taxpayer Savings Act modernizes the longstanding review process for federally funded projects to account for future flood risk and incorporates resiliency and mitigation measures to prevent potential damage. I thank Representative Zeldin for joining me to introduce this commonsense legislation that will help protect communities and livelihoods while preserving federal resources.”
“In a district almost completely surrounded by water, coastal resiliency and flood mitigation are critical in making sound investments in our community,” said Congressman Lee Zeldin. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Congressman Price, which will help ensure that federal investments and resources in our communities stand the test of time and are able to continue serving the American people who need them most.”
The full text of the legislation can be found here.
Although the introduction of the bill is a significant first step, there’s more work to be done. Our policy team will continue to work with partner organizations and others to help build support for this bill and companion legislation in the Senate.
Quotes from other organizations in support of Flood Resiliency and Taxpayer Savings Act:
“As floods continue to grow in frequency and costs, the Flood Resiliency and Taxpayer Savings Act of 2020 is vital for shoring up the strength of the nation’s infrastructure and communities. The bill would ensure that taxpayer dollars are invested in projects that take into account the flood risk from events such as sea level rise and heavier downpours—which will help Americans, and the infrastructure we depend on, better withstand the next storm.”
— Laura Lightbody, Director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ flood-prepared communities initiative
“Resilience requires investments at all levels of society — homeowners, businesses, communities, states, and the federal government. Those investments in resilience need to be long lasting. The Flood Resiliency and Taxpayer Savings Act of 2020 is a critical step in that direction. When federal dollars are invested, there needs to be a reasonable assertion that the first dollars will be the last. We shouldn’t need to pay twice for the same project. “
— Roy Wright, CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety and the former lead of FEMA’s insurance and mitigation programs.
“Taxpayers have been made to shell out hundreds of billions of dollars in disaster-related spending over the past decade. It is essential that flood risks be considered and mitigated whenever federal funds are used to build or rebuild infrastructure. Rising sea levels and more frequent and severe rainfall events caused by climate change make this an urgent priority to ensure taxpayers’ investments are long-lasting.”
— R.J. Lehmann, Senior Fellow, R Street Institute
“Far too many federally-funded affordable homes are located in floodplains and other areas susceptible to damage from disasters. This puts America’s lowest-income and most marginalized seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and others at greater risk of displacement and, in worst cases, homelessness when disasters strike. Congress should work quickly to protect lives and prevent displacement by enacting the Flood Resiliency and Taxpayer Savings Act of 2020 Act to ensure that federal investments in affordable housing and infrastructure can withstand future disasters.”
— Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition
“Congress owes it to taxpayers to ensure their dollars are not wasted on federally funded projects that need to be repaired and rebuilt over and over again. Federal standards should ensure projects take account of flood risk, so that appropriators do not spend good money after bad.”
— Brandon Arnold, Executive Vice President, National Taxpayers Union
American Institute of Architects
American Planning Association
American Property Casualty Insurance Association
American Public Works Association
American Society of Civil Engineers
American Society of Landscape Architects
Association of State Floodplain Managers
Center for American Progress
Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers
Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
Environment and Energy Study Institute
Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety
National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies
National Institute of Building Sciences
National Low Income Housing Coalition
National Taxpayers Union
National Wildlife Federation
Natural Resources Defense Council
R Street Institute
Reinsurance Association of America
Rise to Resilience
Smart Home America
Taxpayers for Common Sense
Taxpayer Protection Alliance
The Alliance for National and Community Resilience
The Nature Conservancy
The Pew Charitable Trusts
U.S. Resiliency Council
Union of Concerned Scientists