FEMA levee certification reduces need for flood insurance

It’s fall. The ground is frosty in the morning. Those once-beautiful, turning leaves are now on the ground begging to be raked. Asphalt suppliers are shutting down for the season. You might think it’s time for the water resources and floodplain professionals to start booking winter vacations and taking it easy. After all, it’s kind of the off season, isn’t it?

No. It’s not.

Truth is, there’s no such thing as an “off season” when it comes to water resources professionals in The Valley, and now is actually the best time to continue performing case studies and developing regional strategy by diving deeper into area flood risk reduction projects and recovery efforts.

Aside from our continual effort to reduce flood risk, we use this time for progress on things like levee certifications – proving to FEMA that a levee system can provide protection from a 100-year flood – a Moore Engineering specialty.

We assisted the City of Enderlin, North Dakota, with the state’s first levee re-certification under FEMA’s MapMod program back in 2010. That report was used by FEMA Region VIII as the template to distribute throughout six states to other communities with levees to help them understand the process. Since 2010, we’ve completed re-certifications of several other levee systems.

That includes the City of Ada, Minnesota, where we’re in the process of helping them earn FEMA certification of their newly constructed non-federal levees. FEMA certification is a detailed and lengthy process involving submission of MT-2 Forms, gathering and submittal of background information, doing hydraulic modeling using HEC-RAS, performing an interior drainage coincident rainfall analysis, pulling in sub-consultants for geotechnical evaluations, designing the levee according to the Code of Federal Regulations (44 CFR 65.10) concerning freeboard and other criteria, and creating an operations and maintenance manual. Ada is currently on schedule to receive FEMA accreditation of the north levee in February of 2016.

Certified levees are relatively rare, but benefit our clients and their communities. If we weren’t able to help get these levees certified, residents would still be mapped in the 100-year floodplain and would be required to purchase flood insurance, having a major economic impact. In an area protected by a certified levee, flood insurance becomes optional and much less expensive.

If you’d like to talk more about levee re-certifications or other water issues, we’ll be available at the Courtyard by Marriott in Moorhead, Minn., November 18-20, for the Minnesota Floodplain Managers Annual Conference. Find us there or call me at 701.499.5856 and we can talk.