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Levee Mapping

This page provides homeowners, renters, business owners, and the general public information on levee mapping statuses. Site users can search information regarding the accreditation status of levees as well as the risk that comes with living near a levee.

Homeowners, Renters, Business Owners and the General Public: Levee Mapping Status 

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

Community backing on to a levee Levees protecting a community, prior to flooding Community flooded by overtopped levees

Living With Levees Comes With Risk

Levees reduce the risk of flooding. They do not eliminate it. Over time, the ability of the levee to reduce the risk can change. Some levees today do not or no longer provide the minimum level of risk reduction from a 1-percent-annual-chance (base) flood. Flood maps treat areas near these non-accredited levees as high-risk flood zones. Other levees have been constructed or improved to a higher standard and meet at least the minimum Federal standards of reducing the risk of flooding. Flood maps show these as accredited levees and areas behind them are typically mapped as a moderate-risk area. Still other levees are under review and are shown as Provisionally Accredited Levees while further documentation takes place.

Non-Accredited Levees

When FEMA is issuing new flood maps for a community with a levee system and the levee is found to no longer meet Federal standards for reducing the risks associated with the base flood, it will be shown on the new flood map as being non-accredited. This means the flood risk around the levee will be mapped as a high-risk area, known as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).

Because of the higher flood risk, owners of structures shown on effective flood maps in high-risk areas are subject to the Federal flood insurance requirement. This means property owners will be required to purchase a flood insurance policy if they have a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender. 

Accredited Levees

When levees are certified to provide at least the minimum Federal standard of flood hazard reduction, FEMA maps the areas behind these accredited levees as moderate-risk areas. Levee accreditation does not guarantee that flooding will not occur. The flood hazards in that area has only been reduced, not removed. There is always a risk of flooding if you live or work near a levee as a levee can fail or be overtopped by a larger flood than the levee was designed to contain.  As a result, flooding could be catastrophic. 

Residents and business owners in these areas should seriously consider their risks and take appropriate steps to safeguard themselves and their properties. More than 20 percent of all flood claims come from moderate- and low-risk areas.

Most residents and business owners living behind an accredited levee that is mapped as a moderate- or low-risk area will qualify for the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) Preferred Risk Policy (PRP). PRP’s cost about one-third to one-half of the price of a standard-rated flood insurance policy, while providing both building and contents coverage. Note that there is typically a 30-day waiting period before a policy becomes effective, so it is important to talk to your agent soon to ensure you are protected. To find an agent in your area, visit FloodSmart.gov.

Provisionally Accredited Levees

A Provisionally Accredited Levee (PAL) designation means the levee previously met Federal flood standards for reducing flood hazards, but additional documentation is now required to show that it remains in compliance. During this period of review, your levee(s) will be temporarily designated as a PAL, because available data indicates it likely still provides the needed level of flood hazard reduction. 

While the levee is provisionally accredited, the flood maps will continue to show the levee as meeting the minimum Federal standards for reducing the flood hazard; however, the provisional designation serves as a reminder that there is always a risk of flooding if you live or work near a levee because levees can fail or be overtopped by a larger flood than the levee was designed to contain. As a result, flooding could be catastrophic. Residents and business owners in these areas should seriously consider their risks and take appropriate steps to safeguard themselves and their properties. More than 20 percent of all flood claims come from moderate- and low-risk areas.

Most residents and business owners living behind a PAL that is mapped as a moderate-risk area will qualify for the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) Preferred Risk Policy (PRP). PRP’s cost about one-third to one-half of the price of a standard-rated flood insurance policy, while providing both building and contents coverage. Note that there is typically a 30-day waiting period before a policy becomes effective, so it is important to talk to your agent to ensure you are covered. To find an agent in your area, visit FloodSmart.gov.

For More Information

For additional information on levees, levee risk, levee safety and mapping, visit FEMA’s Levee Resources Library.

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 (Eastern Time)
  • Email the FMIX
  • Chat with a Map Specialist Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (Eastern Time)

Subscribe to receive flood hazard mapping updates via email.

Last Updated: 
05/23/2019 - 08:45