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Legislators Introduce Flood Protection Bill

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

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Announced at the end of September, Representatives David E. Price (D-North Carolina) and Lee Zeldin (R-New York) introduced legislation aimed at reducing the impacts of severe weather, such as tropical storms, hurricanes, flooding and other risks associated with rising sea levels.

The bipartisan bill is entitled the Flood Resiliency and Taxpayer Savings Act of 2020.

About the Legislation

According to the bill’s summary, the legislation represents a pragmatic approach to enhancing the safety of federal investments and communities, while building and rehabilitating in flood-prone areas. Similar to other construction legislation, the bill directs federal agencies to plan for potential future risks (excluding the military with the exception of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) in order to augment longstanding flood review processes.

The legislation arrives as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that flooding has been named as the most common and expensive natural disaster in America, costing the nation more than $845 billion in estimated losses from flood- and hurricane-related disasters since 2000.

KSwinicki / Getty Images

Announced at the end of September, Representatives David E. Price (D-North Carolina) and Lee Zeldin (R-New York) introduced legislation aimed at reducing the impacts of serve weather, such as tropical storms, hurricanes, flooding and other risks associated with rising sea levels.

The Administration adds that in wake of these disasters, the federal government often pays most of the repair costs, while losses from recent disasters underscore the need for a cost-effective disaster risk management strategy to safeguard the nation’s infrastructure, protect businesses and communities, and conserve taxpayer resources.

“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 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.”

Currently, projects associated with potential flood risks are reviewed solely on whether that project lies within an area that has been mapped as a 1%-annual-chance floodplain, commonly called the 100-year floodplain. However, many businesses, families, and communities have been negatively affected as the system fails as an accurate forecast.

The bill recognizes the uncertainty of flood mapping and calls for using additional available information on how flood risks may change over the lifetime of potential projects.

Specifically, the legislation:

  • Directs federal agencies to consider and plan for future flood 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 floodprone 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; and
  • In the absence of concrete data about future flood risk, it ensures that 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 and resiliency strategies.

If implemented, the Flood Resiliency and Taxpayer Savings Act places the responsibility with the Federal Interagency Floodplain Management (FIFM) Task Force—which is chaired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency—and requires FIFM to consult with states, localities, tribes and other stakeholders.

Additionally, FIFM will also issue guidelines to federal agencies for implementation of new protections and periodic reports to Congress on the implementation of the guidelines, including recommendations for improvements to enhance resilience and the protection of federal investments.

“Our current approach to managing flood risk is wrong - 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,” said Chad Berginnis, Executive Director, Association of State Floodplain Managers. “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.”

The legislation is reportedly supported by over a dozen groups and organizations.

   

Tagged categories: Disasters; Flood Barrier; Funding; Government; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Safety; Taxes

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