Description and Intent
Executive Order 11988 requires federal agencies to avoid to the extent possible the long and short-term adverse impacts associated with the occupancy and modification of flood plains and to avoid direct and indirect support of floodplain development wherever there is a practicable alternative. In accomplishing this objective, "each agency shall provide leadership and shall take action to reduce the risk of flood loss, to minimize the impact of floods on human safety, health, and welfare, and to restore and preserve the natural and beneficial values served by flood plains in carrying out its responsibilities" for the following actions:
- acquiring, managing, and disposing of federal lands and facilities;
- providing federally-undertaken, financed, or assisted construction and improvements;
- conducting federal activities and programs affecting land use, including but not limited to water and related land resources planning, regulation, and licensing activities.
Summary of Requirements
The guidelines address an eight-step process that agencies should carry out as part of their decision-making on projects that have potential impacts to or within the floodplain. The eight steps, which are summarized below, reflect the decision-making process required in Section 2(a) of the Order.
- Determine if a proposed action is in the base floodplain (that area which has a one percent or greater chance of flooding in any given year).
- Conduct early public review, including public notice.
- Identify and evaluate practicable alternatives to locating in the base floodplain, including alterative sites outside of the floodplain.
- Identify impacts of the proposed action.
- If impacts cannot be avoided, develop measures to minimize the impacts and restore and preserve the floodplain, as appropriate.
- Reevaluate alternatives.
- Present the findings and a public explanation.
- Implement the action.
Among a number of things, the Interagency Task Force on Floodplain Management clarified the EO with respect to development in flood plains, emphasizing the requirement for agencies to select alternative sites for projects outside the flood plains, if practicable, and to develop measures to mitigate unavoidable impacts.