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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Construction & Restoration Projects

Levee Accreditation Regulations

As the federal agency that is responsible for administering the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), FEMA identifies flood hazards through analyses and mapping projects, including flood hazards impacted by levee systems. The information developed through these flood analyses and projects is provided to communities in the form of maps, called Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).

While FEMA maps flood hazards impacted by levee systems, FEMA does not build, own, or certify levees. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is responsible for building and maintaining USACE-owned levees and for inspecting those structures to determine their level of maintenance. States, communities, and private levee owners are responsible for maintaining and operating the levees they own according to specific design criteria.

FEMA, USACE, and the Bureau of Reclamation continue to work together to align the nation’s federal levee processes and procedures. Review the progress these agencies have made on the recommendations provided by the National Committee on Levee Safety.

Mapping Requirements For Levee System Construction And Restoration Projects

FEMA has established regulatory and procedural requirements for the mapping of areas impacted by levee system construction and restoration projects. The Levee System Construction and Restoration Projects page contains information and resources related to FEMA regulatory and procedural requirements. It also outlines the benefits of including FEMA flood control restoration zones and adequate progress determinations, shown as Zone AR and Zone A99, respectively, on FIRMs.

Levee System Regulatory Requirement For Accreditation

Levee systems that are designed to provide flood hazard-reduction from the base (1-percent-annual-chance) flood may be accredited by FEMA, and areas immediately behind them mapped as a moderate-hazard zone on the FIRM. In order for a levee system to be accredited by FEMA and shown on a FIRM as providing flood hazard-reduction from the 1-percent-annual-chance flood, the levee must first be certified by a professional engineer, or a federal agency that designs levees, that it is in compliance with the requirements outlined in Section 65.10 of the NFIP regulations with the appropriate supporting documentation.

If FEMA does not receive the data and documentation required to show compliance with Section 65.10 of the NFIP regulations, FEMA will consider the levee non-accredited – that is, FEMA will not map the levee as providing flood hazard reduction from the 1-percent-annual-chance flood on the impacted FIRM panel(s).

Provisionally Accredited Levees

To assist owners who cannot provide FEMA with the required professional engineer-certified data and/or documentation to show the levee continues to provide flood hazard reduction from at least the 1-percent-annual-chance flood, FEMA established the Provisionally Accredited Levee (PAL) designation to facilitate the levee accreditation process.

Before FEMA will apply the PAL designation to a levee system, the community or levee owner must sign and submit an agreement indicating the data and documentation required for compliance with Section 65.10 will be provided within a specified timeframe not to exceed 24 months. Additional information on PALs can be found in the Provisionally Accredited Levees Brochure.

Tools and Resources

Use FEMA's tools and templates to better understand the relationship between levees, flood risks and insurance.

Review FEMA’s guidance and standards related to levees and the accreditation process.

To assist community officials and levee owners, FEMA has also developed a “how-to” checklist for floodplain managers and engineers: Meeting the Criteria for Accrediting Levees on NFIP Flood Maps: How-To Guide for Floodplain Managers and Engineers.

Owners and operators can get recommendations on planning and preparing for high water events with FEMA's Emergency Preparedness Guidelines for Levees.

Last updated August 25, 2020