ing, land use practices, building codes, and other “nonstructural” approaches. Federal investments in flood protection structures will be enhanced to the extent that local land use policies behind levees are designed to limit residual risks in leveed areas. Currently, there is no provision in Corps programs or sponsorship agreements that encourages or requires local sponsors to implement nonstructural measures (e.g., land use zoning) that could help reduce the consequences of structural failure or overtopping.

There will be fewer federal resources available for the Corps of Engineers to continue its leadership role in flood control via construction of large new civil works projects. The Corps also acknowledges that a wide range of community-level decisions and practices are major—perhaps the primary—factors in reducing flood risks. The future of U.S. national flood management will feature less federally centered and top-down projects with large civil works structures, and more local-driven, community-centered, and less expensive alternatives that reflect the dynamic nature of river-floodplain systems and allow rivers to move more freely into their floodplains during high flows. Recent changes in the National Flood Insurance Program under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 will increase public awareness of flood risks by strengthening requirements for flood insurance, improving flood mapping, and allow insurance premiums to reflect eventually full actuarial risk.

In the future, the Corps will be more of a flood risk management partner in providing technical advice and support to local communities. Those local communities will be expected to assume a more active role in all aspects of managing floods, including local funding for maintenance or even select relocations of structures out of hazardous flood zones. Many communities have made explicit decisions to employ less traditional, nonstructural approaches to managing floods, such as zoning regulations and flood insurance. Strategies such as allowing rivers to occasionally overflow into floodplains that have only minimal infrastructure not only reduce risks of property and financial losses of flooding but also allow floodplains to serve as storage areas to reduce downstream flood peaks. These nonstructural actions can be used to guide development in a growing community, and they can be employed in floodplain areas behind levees and other hard infrastructure that are difficult to properly maintain Moreover, these strategies generally enhance environmental and related social benefits. These types of practices, which harken back to the work of Gilbert White several decades ago, hold promise in moving the nation toward

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement