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Living with Levees: Information for Cooperating Technical Partners and Engineers

This page provides levee information and resources detailed for Cooperating Technical Partners (CTPs), engineers, surveyors, and mapping contractors.

Know Your Risk, Know Your Role, Take Action Today!

Wapello, Iowa, August 5, 2008 -- Federal Coordinating Officer Bill Vogel attended today's Elsberry, Mo., June 20, 2008 -- A levee in the Elsberry levee district breaks, flooding farmland and houses in the area.Jocelyn Augustino/FEMADes Moines, Iowa, June 18, 2008 -- Andrea Hunter, a Special Assistant for Field Administration (SAFA), works in front of the Iowa map she maintains for Comminity Relations at FEMA's Joint Field Office.  The map lists the locations of CR teams in Iowa's 65 designated disaster counties.  Photo by Greg Henshall / FEMA

Identifying the Flood Risk

As the Federal agency that is responsible for administering the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) identifies flood hazards through analyses and mapping projects and also establishes the criteria for levee accreditation. The information developed through these flood analyses and projects is provided to communities in the form of maps, called Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). 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.

Levee Assessment Requirements

Levees that are designed to provide flood hazard-reduction from at least the 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 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 and the appropriate documentation is included.

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 on the impacted FIRM panel(s) as providing flood hazard reduction from the 1-percent-annual-chance flood.

Levee Analysis & Mapping Approach Released

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released its Analysis and Mapping Procedures for Non-Accredited Levees on July 12, 2013. Review additional information available on the Final Levee Analysis and Mapping Approach webpage.

Provisionally Accredited Levees

When a community with an existing accredited levee is being remapped, the levee owner must provide the proper documentation to certify that it still meets at least the minimum Federal requirements. 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 and through the Levee Resources Library.

Finding More Information on Levee Accreditation and FEMA Guidance on Levees

FEMA’s guidance and standards related to levees and the accreditation process are available through the Guidelines and Standards for Flood Risk Analysis and Mapping page.

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.

A comprehensive catalog of levee-related publications and resources related to accreditation and other levee topics is available at the FEMA Levee Resources Library.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Participation in Levee System Assessment

FEMA and USACE management and staff coordinate closely on levee system issues. On November 13, 2014, the USACE issued a memorandum that provides policy guidance for the inspection of levee systems in the USACE programs. The USACE memorandum helps clarify the responsibilities of USACE and FEMA staff for notifying levee owners of the condition of their levee systems. The USACE memorandum also explains the data required to credit levee systems for reducing the hazard from floods. FEMA and USACE staff collaboratively developed this memorandum and FEMA incorporated this into the Levee Guidance Document to cover situations where levee systems in the USACE program are evaluated for accreditation on FIRMs.

On January 18, 2007, the USACE issued a memorandum to provide supplemental guidance for the inspection of levee systems in the USACE programs. The purpose of the memorandum is to provide a one-time-only “maintenance deficiency correction period” of 1 year, which will allow public sponsors of levee system projects time to correct maintenance deficiencies before the project is placed in an “inactive” status in the USACE Rehabilitation and Inspection Program and becomes ineligible for Public Law 84-99 rehabilitation assistance.

USACE Engineering Circular 1110-2-6067 (USACE Process for the National Flood Insurance Program Levee System Evaluation), issued August 31, 2010 comprehensively outlines the USACE’s policy for levee system evaluations performed by the USACE for FEMA NFIP accreditation of levees.

For a comprehensive listing of key USACE documents relating to levee assessment, visit the USACE’s Levee Safety Program web page.

Mapping Requirements for Levee System Construction and Restoration Projects

In the interest of public safety, communities, State agencies, and Federal agencies sometimes construct new levee systems to address flood hazards and reduce flood risks to the people and structures in certain communities or areas within a state. In other situations, communities, State agencies, or Federal agencies will undertake a project to restore the flood hazard reduction capabilities of a levee system that had previously provided 1-percent-annual-chance flood hazard reduction, but which had been found to no longer provide this level of flood hazard reduction. 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 home page contains information and resources related to FEMA regulatory and procedural requirements. This page outlines the benefits of including FEMA flood control restoration zones and adequate progress determinations, shown as Zone AR and Zone A99 respectively on FIRMs.

Get Assistance

Answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions are provided for the following user groups: homeowners, engineers, surveyors and architects, insurance professionals and lenders, and floodplain managers.

For additional information or assistance, contact a Map Specialist in the FEMA Map Information eXchange (FMIX) through the following methods:

  • Call (1-877) FEMA MAP (1-877-336-2627) Monday through Friday, 8:00 am through 6:30 pm (EST)
  • Email FEMAMapSpecialist@riskmapcds.com
  • Chat with a Map Specialist Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (EST)

Subscribe to receive updates on FEMA Flood Hazard Mapping activities, including updates on levee-related activities, via e-mail.

Last Updated: 
02/19/2019 - 10:27