FEMA Wants To Toughen Flood Regulation On Projects Using Federal Funds

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The proposal would prompt projects to be built as much as two feet higher. Some business groups say regulations would drive up costs

August 31, 2016
FEMA Wants To Toughen Flood Regulation On Projects Using Federal Funds

Flooding in Nashville, Tenn. Photo: Eric Hamiter/Creative Commons.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency proposed regulations recently that would require owners using federal funds on construction projects in flood-prone areas to build on higher ground. The proposal, stemming from an executive order signed by President Obama in January 2015 requiring a new flood-protection standard for infrastructure projects that use federal money, would prompt projects to be built as much as two feet higher in many cases.

Some business groups expressed concern that the regulations would drive up costs, and make rebuilding even more expensive. The regulations provide three options for construction projects using federal funds in flood-prone areas: build two feet above the 100-year floodplain level for standard projects, or three feet above for critical action projects such as hospitals or nursing homes; build to the 500-year floodplain; or use best available scientific models.

The regulations would “essentially rewrite the current 100-year flood standard that has been used nationwide for the past five decades,” the Washington Post reported. Up to now, to qualify for the national flood insurance program, communities have required that buildings be at or above the 100-year flood level.

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