National Levee Safety Program

Issue

On January 15, 2009 the National Committee on Levee Safety completed its draft report and presented its recommendations for a National Levee Safety Program to Congress. The Committee is composed of levee safety experts from US Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA and appointees from state levee agencies, local and regional governments, Indian tribes, and the private sector.

The Committee recognized the need for a broader national flood risk management approach, and submitting 20 specific recommendations for a National Levee Safety Program. The recommendations to Congress are:

  1. Establish a National Levee Safety Commission, to provide leadership and approaches
  2. Expand and Maintain the National Levee Database
  3. Adopt a Hazard Potential Classification System
  4. Develop and Adopt National Levee Safety Standards
  5. Develop Tolerable Risk Guidelines
  6. Change “Levee Certification” to “Compliance Determination”, under the National Flood Insurance Program
  7. Subject Levee Compliance Determinations to Peer Review
  8. Swiftly Address Growing Concerns Regarding Liability for Damages Resulting from Levee Failures
  9. Develop a Comprehensive National Public Involvement and Education/Awareness Campaign to Communicate Risk and Change Behavior in Leveed Areas
  10. Provide Comprehensive Technical Materials and Direct Technical Assistance
  11. Develop a National Levee Safety Training Program
  12. Develop and Implement Measures to More Closely Harmonize Levee Safety Activities with Environmental Protection Requirements
  13. Conduct a Research and Development Program
  14. Design and Delegate Program Responsibilities to States
  15. Establish a Levee Safety Grant Program
  16. Establish the National Levee Rehabilitation, Improvement, and Flood Mitigation Fund
  17. Explore Potential Incentives and Disincentives
  18. Mandate Purchase of Risk-Based Flood Insurance in Leveed Areas
  19. Augment FEMA’s Mapping Program to Improve Risk Identification and Communication
  20. Align FEMA’s Community Rating System to Reward Development of State Levee Safety Programs

ACEC Position

ACEC urges Congress to create a National Levee Safety Program that includes all of the recommendations of the National Committee on Levee Safety. Each recommendation is an integral part of a complete and comprehensive program. ACEC is especially concerned that without a reduction in potential liability for firms performing engineering services for levee systems (#8), state and local interest and ability to develop levee safety programs (including much needed levee evaluations, repairs, and rehabilitation) will come to a halt.

 

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