floodplaincover Photo of Columbia River in Oregon courtesy of Decaseconds / Creative Commons.

Smarter Floodplain Management


The Challenge: 
Healthy, functioning floodplains are hugely important for the many values they provide: clean water, flood storage, flat and fertile lands for agriculture and construction, abundant fish and wildlife, and ready transportation. As well as providing key economic opportunities for urban and rural communities, they also help make those communities more resilient to the effects of a changing climate.

Along with these benefits, however, come challenges. Increasing insurance costs, flood frequency, and flood severity in developed areas add to an already complex and changing set of regulatory requirements.  Effective floodplain management that conserves and restores floodplain functions can bring ecological, economic, and social benefits to communities, but it requires tools that can help navigate the regulatory and scientific complexity surrounding floodplains.

Willamette Partnership is working with local governments, state agencies, private landowners, local conservation implementation groups, and others to find better ways to leverage and incentivize these opportunities. The Partnership is leading an initiative to combine the best available science with innovative policy approaches, to create a package of tools that urban and rural communities (including governments, landowners, and conservation implementation groups) can use to better manage their floodplains.

An Integrated Approach to Floodplain Management: 
The project will build from existing quantification and planning tools, adapting them to support an integrated, proactive approach to the management, restoration, and conservation of floodplains in Oregon.

The suite of tools will help communities quantify and communicate the benefits and impacts of conservation and development decisions across the range of ecosystem services provided by floodplains. It will also help with coordination of management issues across regulating agencies and land ownerships. These tools could be used by local communities to articulate their own vision for their floodplains and to improve targeting of incentive programs to support that vision.

Over the course of the next two years, we will work closely with many partners, stakeholders, and local communities to scope and ground-truth the project’s approach and actively pilot and test the tools and innovations from this project.

Timeline and Outcomes: The project will run from September 2014 through to August 2017



Project Docs

Website Resources/Links

Floodplains Website Resources/Links

Final Biological Opinion for the Implementation of the National Flood Insurance Program in the State of Oregon – coming soon

Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) Floodplains Overview: http://www.oregon.gov/LCD/HAZ/pages/floods.aspx

Oregon Hazards Reporter: http://mov.oregonexplorer.info/hazards/HazardsReporter/

Floodplains By Design: http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/habitats/riverslakes/floodplains-by-design.xml

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP): http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program

Community Rating System (CRS): http://www.fema.gov/community-rating-system

Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) No Adverse Impact: http://www.floods.org/index.asp?menuid=%20349

ASFPM Floodplain Management 2050: http://www.asfpmfoundation.org/ace-files/forum/GFW_Forum_Report%202050.pdf?pagename=forum/GFW_Forum_Report%202050.pdf

National Flood Insurance Program and the Endangered Species Act in Washington State: http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program-endangered-species-act

“Weathering Change: Policy Reforms That Save Money and Make Communities Safer” by American Rivers: http://www.americanrivers.org/assets/pdfs/global-warming-docs/weathering-change/national-flood-insurance-program.pdf?29cb3b