Floodplains offer fertile soil for farming. They are also attractive places to develop. Over time, development along major river floodplains has put people and property in harm’s way. Drag the slider on the image above to compare land uses along a stretch of the Puyallup River in 1957 and 2013.
Moving Forward: 5 Key Actions
The Floodplains by Design (FbD) team has been working with local organizations as well as federal and state agencies to identify solutions to barriers and create incentives for integrated floodplain management. Our combined efforts over the next several years will position Washington as a national leader in integrated floodplain management.
STEP 1. Implement Integrated Floodplain Projects along Washington’s Major Rivers
Major river floodplains are also the places with the greatest risk for flood damages to critical facilities, commerce, residences and farmlands. The FbD partnership will assist current and new local efforts to develop integrated visions, goals and actions in each river corridor.
STEP 2. Craft a Locally Based Regional Vision and Work Plan
The FbD partnership will develop a 10-year regional vision and work plan based on the visions and strategies developed for each of the 17 major river floodplains. The work plan will include elements of geographic specificity, adaptive management and an assessment of relevant on-going programs. This regional vision will help inform the priorities and focus of state and federal agencies involved in floodplain management and recovery in Washington.
STEP 3. Match the Funding to the Need
It is critical to sustain current funding levels for Federal, state and local funding programs that support integrated floodplain management. It is especially important to make the Department of Ecology’s FbD grant program permanent, with demand already far outstripping available funding. The FbD partnership recommends that this program be funded with at least $50 million in the 2015-2017 biennial budget. Meanwhile, the FbD partnership will pursue new financing – either through growing or repurposing existing funds or creating new revenue streams.
STEP 4. Coordinate Investments
The FbD partnership seeks to advance a coordinated investment strategy to better allocate funding for ecosystem restoration and flood risk reduction. Aligning state and federal funding behind shared priority projects will increase efficiency and accelerate implementation. Agencies are already implementing measures to better coordinate funding programs and ease administrative burdens on project sponsors. Building on these efforts, the FbD partnership has identified specific opportunities to expand coordination, streamline grant processes, and incorporate flexibility in funding program requirements.
STEP 5. Build Technical and Permitting Capacity
The FbD partnership recommends the creation of a dedicated permit/technical assistance team for integrated floodplain projects. This team would improve coordination between and among permitting agencies, build a body of knowledge on permitting technically complex floodplain projects, act as a resource for local jurisdictions working on floodplain projects, and improve the speed and consistency of permitting decisions.