Wednesday, August 31, 2016

FEMA Opens Comment Period For Proposed Rule Changes

A while back (meaning almost 2 years ago in February 2015), we had a blog post to bring attention to the new Federal Executive Order (EO) signed by President Obama, EO 13690.  In that post, we also wrote about how the federal standard regarding flood risks was being updated as a result of the new updated EO.  The federal standard is called the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS) and is an update to how we as a country look at and review development in floodplains when using federal money.  The new FFRMS lays out a process going beyond the minimum standards established for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), trying to acknowledge and plan for adaptation to climate change.  This includes the type of data that should be used to assess floodplain risk, the types of approaches that should be used to considered how to avoid & minimize flood risk, etc.  At FEMA's summary website about the FFRMS, they have posted FAQ sheets from FEMA, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and Housing & Urban Development (HUD) responding to comments that were received on the draft FFRMS document put out for public comment.

In order to implement the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, FEMA has opened a public comment period on their proposed rule changes to comply with the new Federal EO.  While these rule changes would only apply to Federal projects or projects where a federal action is taken (it would not affect the minimum requirements of the NFIP), you may be interested to learn more about FEMA's proposed rule changes to implement the FFRMS, and to submit comments.  The comment period for FEMA's proposal to amend its regulations for "Floodplain Management & Protection of Wetlands" is open until October 21, 2016.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

ASFPM Riverine Erosion Hazard 2016 White Paper

Over the past 15 months, Mike Kline and Rebecca Pfeiffer from our Vermont Rivers Program have been working on a riverine erosion paper with other practitioners from across the country.  The paper was recently presented to the executive committee of the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) as a Discussion Paper.  The Executive Committee thought it was so well done and connected with the paper's recommendations that they decided to adopt it as ASFPM Policy in the form of a White Paper.  You can read more about the paper here, or link directly to it from here:

Friday, January 8, 2016

VPR Story about VT's River Corridor Program

Happy New Year everyone!  On the first day of 2016, Vermont Public Radio (VPR) aired a story about the Vermont Rivers Program and our partners work to protect river corridors in Stowe and throughout Vermont. Kathleen Masterson reported this piece, and interviewed our VT Rivers Program manager, Mike Kline, along with Tom Jackman, Planning Director for the Town of Stowe, Heather Furman, the Vermont state director for the Nature Conservancy and Caitrin Maloney of the Stowe Land Trust.  If you have an extra 5 minutes to spare, it's worth the listen.  You can find the story here on VPR's website

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Maps in Bennington County!

The long-anticipated Bennington County Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map became effective 12/2/2015.  The data can now be found online at:

The FEMA Map Service Center allows users to search by address and find the effective and historic flood maps for any location.  The MSC also has the Flood Insurance Study and Letters of Map Amendment.  Outside of the areas with Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps the MSC has scanned copies of the “white/paper” FIRMs.

The Vermont Natural Resource Atlas has two online platforms.  The Html 5 version can be used by all computers and browsers.  The Silverlight version requires Internet Explorer and a PC that can load the Microsoft Silverlight software (a fairly quick process).

Where there are DFIRMs available, the MSC allows users to download GIS versions of the Special Flood Hazard Areas and other vector data.

The Vermont Center for Geographic Information will also post the GIS data later this month.

On the Flood Ready Atlas you can find a specialized layer for Flood Hazard Mapping that shows areas of Vermont with effective DFIRMs.

With the process in Bennington County completed no other flood map updates are scheduled by FEMA in Vermont.  This leaves large areas of the state with old maps needing attention.  Any future map work by FEMA will be handled through the RiskMAP approach.  RiskMAP uses a HUC-8 watershed boundary as the basis of map updates.  This would be the equivalent of the Missisquoi or Passumpsic River watersheds.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Flood Inundation Maps & Report Released for Lake Champlain & Richelieu River

In the last post, information was provided about the draft report prepared by a working group of the International Joint Commission (IJC) about flood inundation and forecasting in the Lake Champlain-Richelieu River watershed.  The IJC is a a collaboration between the US and Canada to provide coordination, management and protection of shared watersheds. Here in Vermont, we have representatives that have been appointed to the International Lake Champlain-Richelieu River Technical Working Group.

Today, the final report that came out of the Lake Champlain-Richelieu River Technical Working Group was released.  The report, A real-time flood forecasting and flood inundation mapping system for the Lake Champlain-Richelieu River watershed, was an outcome of a 2013 comprehensive Plan of Study.

From the press release:

"The IJC endorses the TWG observation that enhanced coordination among agencies involved in real-time forecasts is necessary to support the development and maintenance of forecast models and quality-controlled joint water level predictions. The Commission endorses the TWG recommendation that a binational coordination body be mandated and funded to consolidate and synthesize flood forecasting work undertaken domestically into a single binational flood forecast. This body would also be charged with developing and disseminating consistent messaging to emergency responders and the public.

"Consequently, the new IJC report does not evaluate potential flood mitigation measures as this was outside the terms of reference provided by governments.

"The Commission reiterates its strong recommendation that governments implement the full scope of the 2013 Plan of Study (PoS) to evaluate past impacts, flood plain management practices and adaptation strategies, and to assess soft (i.e., low impact and cost) to moderate flood mitigation measures and their impacts."

An outcome of the report was a series of inundation flood maps that show the areas of the Lake Champlain and Richelieu River shorelines that would be inundated when the Lake flood waters are at a certain height. Again, from the press release:

"The inundation maps show flooding potential under different flood scenarios and are not designed for regulatory purposes. A preview of these maps is available on the IJC web site at:"

Please take some time to explore the inundation maps, as well as read through the final report which can be found at 

Monday, November 16, 2015

IJC invites public comment on draft flood forecasting and mapping report for Lake Champlain and Richelieu River

IJC invites public comment on draft flood forecasting and mapping report for Lake Champlain and Richelieu River and previews flood inundation maps

The International Joint Commission (IJC) is requesting comments from the public on a draft report to enhance flood preparedness and warnings for Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River by December 10, 2015.  Specifically the IJC asks if the report’s recommendations are sound and whether the recommendations address real needs for enhanced flood preparedness and warnings for Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River.  The Commission is also inviting the public to preview the associated flood inundation maps.

Following the submission of IJC’s  July 2013 Plan of Study “The Identification of Measures to Mitigate Flooding and the Impacts of Flooding of Lake Champlain and Richelieu River” (POS), the governments of the United States and Canada asked the IJC to address two issues associated with the system wide flooding in 2011:
a. closing the gaps in the data needed for a future real-time flood forecasting and inundation mapping system, and
b. the creation of static flood inundation map products.

The IJC appointed the International Lake Champlain-Richelieu River Technical Working Group (TWG) comprised of technical experts from United States, Canada, Quebec, Vermont, and New York to address the two issues. The IJC is now inviting public comment on the TWG’s draft report Toward an operational real-time flood forecasting and flood inundation mapping system for the Lake Champlain and Richelieu River.

The TWG report includes six recommendations addressing the need to:

1. Implement an operational probabilistic approach for forecasting floods, including modelling of wind set up and wave action;
2. Keep the Henry and Grand Isle water level station to maintain water level calibration and also install wave buoys to assist in wave model calibration;
3. Institute a binational coordination body such as an IJC Board to support agencies involved in real time forecasting;
4. Acquire new bathymetric data for the Richelieu River between Sorel and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu;
5. Create a single consistent Digital Elevation Model (DEM) for the entire Lake Champlain-Richelieu River basin following the completion and quality control of LiDAR and bathymetric data acquisition; and
6. Generate static flood inundation maps for the entire Lake Champlain Richelieu River system.

The current effort has significantly advanced the creation of flood-inundation maps for the Lake Champlain-Richelieu River system. These maps provide an emergency planning tool for authorities and the general public on land that may flood during high water events. Static inundation maps were created for the Vermont side of Lake Champlain and a portion of the New York northeastern shoreline on the US side, and for the Richelieu River from the border to downstream of the Fryers Rapids on the Canadian side. A preview of these maps is available on the IJC web site at: , however, the site is under construction and the text accompanying the maps is in French only at this time. A complete LiDAR Digital Elevation Model available in Canada also allowed for the representation of inundation depths for the 11 flood scenarios.  The inundation maps are not designed for regulatory purposes, but rather to show flooding potential under different conditions.  Furthermore the report does not evaluate potential flood mitigation measures as this was outside of the scope of the reference from governments.

This public comment period is being held from November 16 to December 10, at which time the IJC will consider public comments before submitting its final report to governments.


Nick Heisler  (English)  Ottawa 613-992-8367

Sarah Lobrichon (French)      Ottawa 613-992-5368

Frank Bevacqua Washington 202-736-9024

Sarah Lobrichon
Policy and Communications Analyst | Analyste des politiques et des communications
International Joint Commission | Commission mixte internationale
234 Laurier Ave. West, 22nd Floor, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1P 6K6
234, avenue Laurier Ouest, 22e étage, Ottawa (Ontario), Canada K1P 6K6
Telephone | Téléphone 613-992-5368 / Facsimile | Télécopieur 613-993-5583

Imagine two countries sharing hundreds of lakes and rivers along their border without conflict
Imaginez deux pays qui partagent des centaines de lacs et de rivières le long de la frontière sans conflit

Friday, September 18, 2015

No Adverse Impact Lunch & Learn Webinar 10/7/2015

Reposting here for those who may be interested in participating.  Boulder, Colorado had been greatly impacted by riverine erosion flooding in 2013 and they face somewhat similar flooding hazards to parts of Vermont.  As a result of the 2013 flooding, the Colorado Legislature passed a bill that creates a riverine erosion hazard mapping program to plan around flood-related erosion hazards.

-VT Floodplain Management  

Dear Floodplain Officials & NAI Committee Members,

The Georgia Association of Floodplain Managers (GAFM), No Adverse Impact (NAI) Committee, in conjunction with the ASFPM NAI Committee, is pleased to announce our next Webinar:
Topic: The 90 Mile Road To Recovery - Boulder County’s Flood Recovery Journey
Host: Michael Baker International, Inc.
Presenter: Kevin Doyle, P.E., Michael Baker International
Date and Time: Wednesday October 7, 2015 12:00pm-1:00 pm, EDT
Event Password: event1

**ASFPM has approved this webinar for (1) Continuing Education Credit (CEC).  Note that if you are a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM), please indicate that on the registration page title block (i.e., Your Name, CFM)**

  1. Introductions and Roll Call (5 min)
  2. Webinar - Presentation (40 min)
  3. Question and Answer (10 min)
  4. Closing - Future Topics/Presenters (5 min)
**Note you must register in advance to participate and to receive CFM credit.**

Please click on the link below and follow the instructions to register for the webinar:
  1. Go to
  2. Click "Register"
  3. On the registration form, please enter your information in the title block and then click "Submit"
Once registered you will receive a confirmation email with the call-in number and web link to participate in the webinar. Registered participants will also receive a copy of the presentation via email the day of the event.

Thank you and we look forward to your participation. 

Sean Roche, PE, CFM
GAFM NAI Committee Chairman

ASFPM NAI Committee Education & Outreach Liaison