Draft Federal Flood Risk Management Standard Implementing Guidelines

President Obama issued Executive Order 13690, “The Federal Flood Risk Management Standard” in 2015 creating a new national minimum flood risk management standard to ensure that federal actions that are located in or near the floodplain consider risks, changes in climate, and vulnerability. The Order anticipates increases in both climate change impacts and the intensity of those impacts over time. The Guidelines provided by FEMA are for use by Federal agencies to guide the implementation of the updated Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS).

2015 EO 13690, amends EO 11988, Floodplain Management (1977) to require federal agencies to use natural systems, ecosystem processes, and nature-based approaches to identify alternatives and require federal agency regulations or procedures to be consistent with the FFRMS. The flood standard applies when Federal funds are used to build, or significantly retrofit or repair, structures and facilities in and around floodplains to ensure that those structures are resilient, safer, and long-lasting.

The FFRMS provides 3 approaches that federal agencies can choose from to establish the flood elevation and hazard area for consideration in their in siting, design, and construction for federally funded projects:

  • Climate-informed Science Approach – The elevation and flood hazard area that result from using a climate-informed science approach that uses the best-available, actionable hydrologic and hydraulic data and methods that integrate current and future changes in flooding based on climate science. This approach will also include an emphasis on whether the action is a critical action as one of the factors to be considered when conducting the analysis;
  • Freeboard Value Approach – Two or three feet of elevation, depending on the criticality of the building, above the 100-year, or 1%-annual-chance, flood elevation (The elevation and flood hazard area that result from using the freeboard value, reached by adding an additional 2 feet to the base flood elevation for non-critical actions and from adding an additional 3 feet to the base flood elevation for critical actions.); or
  • “500-year” Elevation Approach – The area subject to flooding by the 0.2-percent-annual-chance flood

The Guidelines suggest that when actionable climate science is available, the Climate-informed Science Approach is preferred, although each of these three approaches can improve resilience to current and future flood risk.


Publication Date: January 30, 2015

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  • Agency guidance/policy
  • Planning guides


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