Monday, October 6, 2014

Draft DEC Flood Hazard Area and River Corridor Protection Procedure - Comments Invited through Nov. 3

By the Department of Environmental Conservation
October 6, 2014
The Vermont General Assembly passed Act 138 in 2012 requiring the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) to adopt a Procedure that will:
Outline methods for assessing the sensitivity (i.e., stability) of rivers in the state; delineating river corridors based on sensitivity; and identifying where flood and fluvial erosion hazards pose a probable risk of harm to life, property, or public infrastructure;
Aid and support the municipal adoption of river corridor, floodplain, and buffer bylaws; and
Recommend best management practices for river corridors, floodplains, and buffers.

Acts 138 and Act 107 also required the State to adopt a Flood Hazard Area and River Corridor Rule with the authority to set standards in exceedance of the minimum regulatory standards required by the National Flood Insurance Program administered by FEMA. The Administrative Rule will apply to activities exempt from municipal regulation, i.e., state building and transportation projects, public utilities, and agricultural and silvicultural activities. The proposed Rule would establish a “no adverse impact” (NAI) standard, which essentially limits proposed state facilities or utilities from making any change in the height or velocity of floodwater that would increase inundation or erosion hazards.
The draft Flood Hazard Area and River Corridor Protection Procedure (attached) explains how the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will utilize the same “no adverse impact” standard in providing technical assistance and regulatory recommendations to municipalities, Act 250, and other regulatory agencies. While NAI is the standard ANR has applied since 2004 in making Act 250 recommendations and under Criterion 1D for the NFIP floodway and the ANR river corridor1, it is a higher standard to be met in the flood hazard area outside of the NFIP floodway recommending measures of compensatory storage when necessary.

The Procedures also explain how:
a) Flood hazard areas, river corridor, and Act 250 floodways are delineated;
b) Flood hazard area and river corridor maps are amended or revised by the Department and other parties;
c) Waivers from the NAI standard are used to encourage land use planning for infill, redevelopment, and the shadowing of other structures; and
d) Best practices may be used to promote stream and floodplain equilibrium conditions and the natural attenuation of flood sediments, heights, and velocities that influence flood inundation and fluvial erosion.
The River Corridor and Floodplain Protection Program will accept public comments until November 3, 2014. Written comments should be addressed to or DEC Rivers Program, Watershed Management Division, 1 National Life Drive, Main 2, Montpelier, VT 05620-3522

1 ANR River Corridors are calculated and field-measured areas providing for the stream dynamics, meanders, and the riparian buffers necessary for the restoration and protection of naturally stable or least erosive river forms. Corridors show an area where any stream channelization measures used to protect development or other improvements contribute to an increase in fluvial erosion upstream and downstream and adversely affect public safety, riparian landowners, and river ecosystems.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

ASFPM 2015 - Call for Presenters!

Hello all,

It is October, so that means that presentation and abstract deadlines are on the horizon for the Association of State Floodplain Manager's (ASFPM's) 2015 Annual National Conference in Atlanta, GA!
May 31 - June 5, 2015 
Hyatt Regency Atlanta 
Atlanta, Georgia

Every year, the ASFPM Call for Presenters deadline is on October 31st, so it is time to pull together ideas for both Concurrent Session presentations and Workshop submissions for this end of the month deadline.  The 2015 National Conference theme is Mitigation on My Mind.  The Call for Presenters is seeking a broad range of professionals to address the many issues and problems associated with managing flood risk, making communities more sustainable, and protecting floodplain and natural resources.

Abstract are due by October 31.  Go to the conference website and follow directions for the on-line submission.

In the past, there have been more than double the number of abstracts submitted to number of presentation openings available for concurrent session speakers. To increase your odds of being selected as a speaker for the concurrent sessions, you can review the 2015 Speaker Tips Brochure.

Questions?  Contact ASFPM Conference Planner Chad Ross at

Friday, September 19, 2014

When Governments Cooperate: State Government Municipal Day - November 13, 2014

  NOVEMBER 13, 2014
8 am - 4:15 pm

Our inaugural Municipal Day in March 2014 proved so popular that we were unable to accommodate all who wished to attend. For that reason, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), in cooperation with the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD), invites you to participate in a second all-day event that will include poster presentations, workshops, and the opportunity to engage with Agency staff members and municipal colleagues from across the state. 


The $30 Registration Fee includes morning coffee and a buffet lunch by the New England Culinary Institute.

Complete workshop descriptions and registration details can be found here.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Free FEMA Trainings in Vermont, 9/15-9/17

We have been able to arrange a few different FEMA trainings to be offered around Vermont next week.  All of the trainings are FREE, but space is limited, so be sure to RSVP to Morgaine Bell of the Vermont Rivers Program ASAP.

These classes are geared towards local zoning administrators, local and regional planners, consultants and engineers, but all are welcome.  And please note that you need not be from Vermont to attend!  So please send a link to this post to anyone you think may be interested in these classes.  

We will have the trainings pre-approved for Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) Continuing Education Credits (CECs) as well, so this will be a great way to get some additional CECs in for this year.  


Monday, September 15th
Act 250 Conference Room, Fish & Wildlife Building
111 West Street, Essex Junction VT

8am-12pm: Coastal Construction
1pm-5pm: Floodplain Management

Tuesday, September 16th
St. Albans Free Library
11 Maiden Lane, St. Albans VT
8am-12pm: Coastal Construction

Winooski Conference Room
1 National Life Drive - Main 2, Montpelier VT
12pm-4pm: Intro to CRS and CRS Quick Check

Wednesday, September 17th
Welcome Center
3 Railroad Ave, Windsor VT
8am-12pm: Floodplain Management

Intro to Community Rating System (CRS)
This short session is designed for local officials interested in learning more about the Community Rating System (CRS).  CRS recognizes community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP standards. Besides the benefit of reduced insurance rates, CRS floodplain management activities enhance public safety, reduce damages to property and infrastructure, avoid economic disruption and losses, and protect the environment. More information about CRS is available online at:

CRS Quick Check
The Community Rating System (CRS) Quick Check is a new tool developed to help communities join the CRS.
The objective of the CRS Quick Check is to show that the community is doing enough floodplain management activities above and beyond the minimum requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program to warrant 500 credit points, enough to be a CRS Class 9 or better. This workshop is designed to assist communities that are interested in applying for CRS by discussing the more common activities that CRS communities receive credit for and what documentation would be needed to support the credited points. The Quick Check is available online at: 
Please bring your completed checklist and/or questions to this class.

Intro to Floodplain Management (NFIP 101)
This introductory course is designed to provide an organized training opportunity for local officials responsible for administering their local floodplain management ordinance. The course will focus on the NFIP and concepts of floodplain management, maps and studies, ordinance administration, and the relationship between floodplain management and flood insurance. The FEMA Elevation Certificate (EC) and Map Service Center (MSC) website will also be discussed briefly during the course.

Intro to Coastal Residential Construction
This intense workshop is intended to give attendees an overview of the contents of FEMA’s Coastal Construction Manual and to provide information on how to ensure one- to four-family residential buildings in coastal areas are properly sited, designed, constructed, and maintained. This course is a compressed version of the E386 Residential Coastal Construction held over 4 days at EMI yearly.  In addition, staff of the VT Watershed Management Division’s Lakes and Ponds Program will be providing information about how these coastal construction techniques may overlap with the new Vermont Shoreland Permit Program.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August NFIP Trainings

Hello all,

I’d like to present the upcoming free, online trainings available through STARR. These trainings cover a variety of topics, from the NFIP basics through specifics of elevation certificates, and are presented by STARR staff, FEMA, and State organizations. Many of the courses are eligible for CEC credits for Certified Floodplain Managers.

Please feel free to register for any courses you are interested in attending, and invite or pass information on these courses on to potentially interested communities or organizations in your states. Also, if you are interested in using this online platform for any trainings that your state would like to present, STARR can support you in that effort. Please let me know if you’d like additional information on hosting online trainings.

and click the “Upcoming” tab. Below are the courses offered in August:

August 27, 1:00 pm Eastern – Floodplain Development Permit Review
This 90-minute session will highlight eight basic steps to reviewing development inside the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). This is beginner training, recommended for those new to the role of floodplain administrator. 1 CEC for ASFPM Certified Floodplain Managers.

August 28, 1:00 pm Eastern – Inspecting Floodplain Development
This beginner two-hour session will highlight special considerations for plan reviewers and building inspectors when evaluating and inspecting development inside the Special Flood Hazard Area, including basic concepts and terminology, minimum construction standards (from the IBC/IRC), and conducting inspections. 2 CECs for ASFPM Certified Floodplain Managers.

In addition, here is a summary of courses currently scheduled in September. Additional courses may be added, so check for the current list:

Sep 4, 2014, 1:00 PM Eastern- NFIP Basics
Sep 16, 2014, 1:00 PM Eastern- CRS Webinar Series: Preparing an Annual Recertification Sep 17, 2014, 1:00 PM Eastern- CRS Webinar Series: Drainage System Maintenance
Sep 18, 2014, 1:00 PM Eastern- Elevation Certificates

Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you!

Alex Sirotek, GISP, CFM
FEMA Region 1 Service Center
99 High Street, 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02110

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Is Your Community Flood Ready?

How will post-disaster funding for communities change in October?  
What does your community need to do?  
Is you community planning in order to avoid flood damage?

Visit the new Flood Ready Vermont website to find out.  

Flood Ready Vermont has the tools and data your community needs to:

Use the Flood Ready Atlas to help you identify what is working to keep your community flood resilient and where structures are at risk.  Community Reports quickly compile useful information for your municipal and hazard mitigation plans.  

Flood Ready Vermont is a place where community leaders can share information and ideas to make our communities more flood resilient.  

Funding for the design of the website was provided by the High Meadows Fund, promoting vibrant communities and a healthy natural environment while encouraging long term economic vitality in Vermont; and through a Federal Emergency Management Agency Hazard Mitigation Grant.

Early partners to inspire and help launch the site include the Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC) and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), as ably represented by David Deen, Upper Valley River Steward for CRWC; Angela Mrozinski, Outreach Director for CRWC; Ron Rhodes, North Country River Steward for CRWC; and Anthony Iarrapino, Senior Attorney for CLF.

The website development and design team was led by Daniel Shearer, Tamarack Media Cooperative, and Beka Mandell, Webskillet Cooperative.

Let us know what you think and tell your story about working for flood resilience!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

EPA is looking for feedback on Clean Water Act jurisdiction

Some readers may have heard a little bit about the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) creating a rule having to do with the Clean Water Act.  A few years ago, a US Supreme Court Decision made it clear that the EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) needed to clarify which streams and wetlands were under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.  The result has been a scientific literature review and a proposed rule.  With the proposed rule, not much has actually changed in what is regulated and how.  A lot of the rule is focused on clarifying that tributaries to major, navigable rivers are protected and that wetlands which are connected to downstream waters are also covered by the Clean Water Act.

Part of the update was also for EPA to expand the exemptions for agricultural production.  These exemptions are in addition the those that are already established.  There have been questions about what type of agricultural activities are going to be regulated, so the EPA has compiled facts about the proposed rule and the agricultural exemptions.  In some groups, there are concerns that too many farming activities are going to be exempted, while there has been quite a push-back from others about the new rule with the misconception that more agricultural activities are going to be regulated.  The EPA's sites are trying to clarify just what would and would not be under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.