Q: Who is responsible for complying with the requirements of 44 CFR Section 65.10?
A: Compliance with 44 CFR Section 65.10 requirements rests with communities, levee owners, and/or local project sponsors—not FEMA. A levee system owner can be a Federal or State agency, a water management or flood control district, a local community, a levee district, a non-public organization, or an individual. The party responsible for operating and maintaining the levee system must be a Federal or State agency, an agency created by Federal or State law, or an agency of a community participating in the NFIP. FEMA’s responsibility is solely to review the data and documentation provided and either accredit the levee system with providing 1-percent-annual-chance flood protection on the DFIRM or, when the levee system is shown to be inadequate, to reflect the increased risk of flooding to people and structures in the levee-impacted areas on the DFIRM.
Q: Why did FEMA issue PM 34?
A: Documentation regarding levee design, structural integrity, and other requirements for accrediting a levee system with providing 1-percent-annual-chance flood protection often is outdated or missing altogether. To help clarify the entities responsible for providing data and documentation on levees systems identified during a study/mapping project, FEMA issued PM 34 on August 22, 2005. PM 34 clarifies that it is the levee owner or community’s responsibility to provide data and documentation to show that a levee system meets the requirements of 44 CFR Section 65.10 as part of a study/mapping project. In addition, PM 34 provides clarification on procedures to minimize delays in near-term studies/mapping projects and to aid project teams in properly assessing how to handle levee system-related mapping issues.
Q: When and why did FEMA issue PM 43?
A: FEMA originally issued PM 43 on September 25, 2006. PM 43 provides guidance to FEMA contractors and mapping partners on issuing preliminary and, in some cases, effective DFIRMs, while providing communities and levee owners with additional time to compile and submit the data and documentation necessary to demonstrate compliance with 44 CFR Section 65.10. On March 16, 2007, FEMA issued a revised version of PM 43 to include guidance on evaluating levees systems that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has determined to be maintenance deficient and to offer a one-time-only 1-year “maintenance deficiency correction period.”
Q: When is a levee system designated as a Provisionally Accredited Levee, or PAL, system?
A: The PAL designation is used for a levee system when FEMA has previously accredited the system with providing 1-percent-annual-chance flood protection on an effective Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) and FEMA is awaiting data and/or documentation that will demonstrate the levee system’s compliance with 44 CFR Section 65.10 of the NFIP regulations. A PAL is shown on a DFIRM as providing 1-percent-annual-chance flood protection, and the area impacted by the PAL system is shown as Zone X (shaded) except for areas of residual flooding, such as ponding areas, which will be shown as a Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs).
Q: What happens when a levee system meets the PAL requirements of PM 43?
A: For levee systems that meet the PAL requirement (levee systems presently shown as providing 1-percent-annual-chance flood protection on the effective FIRM and for which the community or levee owner cannot readily provide all data and documentation required by 44 CFR Section 65.10), FEMA will place a note on the DFIRM panel landward of the levee system to indicate FEMA has provisionally accredited the levee system and the designation of any existing Zone X (shaded) area is provisional. FEMA will also add an explanatory note to the Notes to Users section of the map frame.
Before FEMA will designate a levee system as a PAL system, the community or levee owner will need to sign and return an agreement. By signing the agreement, the levee owner/community indicates the levee system currently complies with the requirements of 44 CFR Section 65.10 and that the data and documentation required for compliance with 44 CFR Section 65.10 will be provided within a specified timeframe. The timeframe will depending on the levee system’s status (i.e., within 24 months of the 91st day following the date of the initial notification letter or within 24 months of the final day of the correction period for levees that have been offered the 1-year maintenance deficiency correction period).