BOX 1-4
Statement of Task

An ad hoc committee will examine current FEMA treatment of levees within the National Flood Insurance Program, and provide advice on how those levee-related policies and activities could be improved. The study will address the following topics regarding how levees are considered in the NFIP: (1) risk analysis, (2) flood insurance, (3) risk reduction, and (4) risk communication. More specifically, within this framework the committee will consider the following key issues and topics:


  •  Current risk analysis and mapping procedures and guidelines of levees implemented to determine risk premium rate zones for flood insurance purposes.

  •  Existing Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) and their corresponding risk premium rates for areas behind accredited and non-accredited levees.

  •  Existing requirements for levee accreditation under 44 CFR §65.10.


  •  Flood insurance pricing options for areas behind levees.

  •  Direct annualized flood loss estimates for residential and commercial structures behind levees.

  •  Waiving mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements for areas behind accredited levees.


  •  Floodplain management, building standards, and land use practices employed behind levees across the nation.

  •  Engineered overtopping and breaches as a risk reduction or mitigation measure for levee systems.

  •  Existing and proposed levee-related grants and personal assistance policies. How can communities maximize benefits and reduce risks by using these?

  •  Mitigation options for communities with levees to help offset risks as investments grow in them and in areas behind levees


  •  Existing FEMA levee outreach activities, programs, and material.

  •  The concept of “shared responsibility” for flood risk management and how it might be promoted.

  •  Incentives for communities to participate in mitigation activities that reduce levee-related risks.

  •  Non-regulatory products that can complement regulatory products in terms of risk communication.

The study and report will examine the efficacy of these practices and policies, make observations regarding levee policies, and analyze options for improving FEMA’s treatment of levees within the National Flood Insurance Program. All conclusions and recommendations will be grounded in physical and social science and engineering concepts and evidence.

assistance or the relationship between federal disaster assistance and flood insurance, flood damage mitigation, or “affordability” of levees for a community.

In the course of deliberations and information-gathering efforts, it became clear that use and interpretation of critical levee-related terminology varies across relevant stakeholders, in the scientific literature, and among committee members from different backgrounds. The committee adopted definitions for each relevant term, which are defined upon first usage and used consistently throughout most of the report; where terminology is not consistent,

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