Recommendations for a National Levee Safety Program ...From the National Committee on Levee Safety

Status of Recommendations related to National Leadership


Recommendations for a National Levee Safety Program | Report to Congress | National Leadership | State Levee Safety Programs | Aligning Existing Federal Programs | Feedback on the National Levee Safety Program


Images of Corps National Database upon which expansion to non-federal levees could be based.
Corps National Database upon which expansion to non-federal levees could be based.
Photo of Levee reconstruction post Hurricane Katrina. St. Bernard Parish, LA. August 2005.
Levee reconstruction post Hurricane Katrina. St. Bernard Parish, LA. August 2005.
Photo of Lupines on the levee.
Lupines on a Sacramento River levee in Sacramento, California.

The NCLS was charged with developing recommendations and a strategic implementation plan for a National Levee Safety Program. The NCLS continues to work to provide further detail on some of its recommendations so that Congress can be as well-positioned as possible to create a National Levee Safety Program.

As with all efforts that involve complex policy questions, extensive intergovernmental coordination, and significant technical standards development, the NCLS continues to work to identify and communicate to Congress which recommendations need legislation and which recommendations can begin moving towards implementation.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which each have a seat on the NCLS, are working within current authorities and funding to move the nation toward the vision of the National Levee Safety Program, "an involved public and reliable levee systems working as part of an integrated approach to protect people and property from floods." Activities which align with NCLS recommendations include:

  • Expanding the National Levee Database to include voluntarily submitted data from states in order to improve the understanding of the number, location and condition of the nation's levees, which is necessary to fully understand the nation's risk. The NCLS's recommendations call for a one-time, federally funded inventory and inspection of all the nation's levees, and to incorporate that data in the National Levee Database.
  • Further developing the important foundational aspects of several technical recommendations including: levee safety standards, a hazard potential classification system, and tolerable risk guidelines. It is the goal of the NCLS that by working with USACE to develop these standards and guidelines for federal levees, the groundwork will have been set for eventual creation and adoption of national standards. The NCLS has recommended an independent Standards Developing Organization, such as the International Code Council, lead the development of national levee safety standards.
  • Encouraging FEMA to consider the perception of risk and impacts on levee safety as it undertakes a comprehensive National Flood Insurance Program Reform effort and supporting FEMA's Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (RiskMAP) initiative to understand and communicate risk to communities. The NCLS has recommended that FEMA's mapping program be augmented to improve risk identification and communication in leveed areas, and has recommended that properties in leveed areas be covered by risk-based flood insurance.
  • Working with FEMA and USACE to begin identifying and linking existing programs and websites related to levee safety, and to promote a more consistent use of terminology, messages and approaches across the federal government.

Legislation to establish new authorities or expand current authorities is needed to fully implement 12 of the 20 recommendations at a national level. New federal appropriations are needed for all the recommendations.

The nonfederal members of the NCLS have drafted a proposed legislative framework for establishing a National Levee Safety Program and addressing the areas where the NCLS sees that legislation is needed to implement their recommendations. This legislative framework has been provided to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee - the committees which have jurisdiction over many levee safety activities.

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View of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. August 2005.
View of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. August 2005.

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What percentage of the approximately 15,000 miles of levees in US Army Corps of Engineers Levee Safety Program are operated and maintained by local sponsors?

  1. 10%
  2. 25%
  3. 65%
  4. 85%

Answers to this, and past, questions.