This page highlights the requirements, responsibilities, and impacts of constructing or restoring levees. This page is intended for communities, States, and Federal Agencies that plan on constructing or restoring levees.
As administrator of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for assessing flood hazards and related risks and providing appropriate flood hazard and risk information to communities nationwide. This information is provided to communities in the form of maps, called Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).
FEMA is not responsible for building, maintaining, operating, or certifying levee systems. FEMA does, however, develop and enforce the regulatory and procedural requirements that are used to determine whether a completed levee system should be credited with reducing the risk from the 1-percent-annual-chance flood and mapped accordingly on a FIRM.
These requirements are documented in Section 65.10 of the NFIP regulations and in FEMA's Guidelines and Standards for Flood Risk Analysis and Mapping, developed to clarify the regulatory and procedural requirements for FEMA contractors and mapping partners. FEMA relies on Federal, State, and local agencies and private levee owners to provide the required data and documentation on levee systems so that the hazards in levee-impacted areas may be presented accurately on the maps and related products.
FEMA also develops and enforces the regulatory and procedural requirements for levee systems that are being constructed for the first time or that are being restored to reduce the risk from the 1-percent-annual-chance flood. These requirements are presented in Section 61.12 and Section 65.14 of the NFIP regulations and in the previously referenced Guidelines and Standards. As with completed levee systems, FEMA relies on Federal, State, and local agencies to provide data and documentation regarding the new and restored levee systems.
Community, State, and Federal Responsibilities
Communities, State, and Federal agencies may construct new levee systems to address flood hazards and reduce flood risks to structures and people in a particular community or particular area of a State. Likewise, these communities and agencies may undertake a project to restore the risk reduction capability of a levee system that had previously been credited with reducing the hazard from a 1-percent-annual-chance of flood, thereby reducing the flood hazard to the people and structures located in levee-impacted areas.
When communities, State, and Federal agencies undertake such projects to reduce the hazard from a 1-percent-annual-chance of flood, they likely will want to submit the appropriate data and documentation to FEMA so that FEMA may present updated, accurate flood hazard information on the maps and related documents. The required data and documentation will vary, depending on the type of determination that the community would like FEMA to make regarding the project and the flood zone designation that the community would like FEMA to include on the effective FIRM for that community.
Before deciding on these options, however, it is important for communities to know the requirements, responsibilities, and impacts that these options will have on community residents and business owners.
Levees System Construction (Zone A99) Requirements
FEMA issues “adequate progress” determinations for flood control system construction projects that, once completed, may significantly limit the area of a community that will be included in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) identified on a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). The SFHA, also known as the high-hazard area, is the area that will be inundated by the 1-percent-annual-chance flood.
For FEMA to consider issuing an “adequate progress” determination, FEMA must receive a written application from the community documenting that certain project financing considerations and project construction milestones have been met. Such projects reduce, but do not eliminate, the risk of flooding to people and structures in “levee-impacted” areas.
Levee System Restoration (Zone AR) Requirements
If a community is engaged in the process of restoring a flood control system credited with reducing the hazard from a 1-percent-annual-chance flood on the effective FIRM and decertified by a Federal agency responsible for flood hazard projects design or construction, the community CEO or other responsible community official may submit certain data and documentation and request, in writing, that FEMA determine whether they are eligible for a food control restoration zone. If the data and documentation that are submitted with the request support it, FEMA will issue a written determination and will change the FIRM to show the levee-impacted area as Zone AR.
Additional information on data, documentation, and mapping requirements is provided in the Useful Resources section below and on the Flood Protection Restoration (Zone AR) Requirements page.
The levee resources listed below provide more information on regulatory requirements, procedural requirements, and the benefits of levee system adequate progress (Zone A99) and (Zone AR) determinations.
- Flood Control Restoration: Zone AR Requirements Summary for State and Local Officials
- Adequate Progress on Flood Control Systems: Zone A99 Requirements Summary for State and Local Officials
- Guidelines and Standards for Flood Risk Analysis and Mapping
- NFIP Regulations
For More Information
For additional information on levees, levee risk, levee safety and mapping, visit FEMA’s Levee Resources Library.
- Call (1-877) FEMA MAP (1-877-336-2627) Monday through Friday, 8:00 am through 6:30 pm (Eastern Time)
- Email FEMAMapSpecialist@riskmapcds.com
- Chat with a Map Specialist Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (Eastern Time)
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