Mitigation Matters: Policy Solutions to Reduce Local Flood Risk

This report from The Pew Charitable Trusts provides brief summaries of 13 case studies from across the U.S. where states or cities are effectively implementing flood mitigation strategies. The case studies are organized by strategies using existing funds, those generating new revenue, and those employing updated or new regulations to reduce risk and mitigate the impacts of flooding. Because flood risk and the cost of adapting to floods is expected to increase, this report aims to offer model examples and lessons learned to decision-makers seeking to improve their communities’ resilience to floods and storms exacerbated by climate change.

Using existing funds for mitigation by redirecting revenue and spending

The case studies using existing funds illustrate how state and local governments have redirected existing revenue in the form of grants, rebates, and tax credits to implement or encourage mitigation projects. For example, Washington state’s Floodplains by Design program includes grants for floodplain restoration and integrated floodplain management.

Creating revenue sources for mitigation

New revenue sources involve burden-sharing efforts such as leveraging bonds and tax collections, offering revolving loans, and combining state and federal financial assistance to fund flood mitigation. For example, the state of Maryland provides low-interest loans to property owners for “living shorelines” projects that protect against coastal erosion.

Establishing smarter regulations to reduce flood risk

Case studies that established smarter regulations include new state policy, updates to municipal zoning ordinances, and permitting and development regulations. For example, the city of Brevard, North Carolina requires that new development in a floodplain acquire a “no-adverse-impact” certification to ensure that projects do not worsen flood risk downstream.

The report concludes with lessons learned from across the 13 case studies including:

  • Invest in planning and understanding the risks to shape effective mitigation efforts
  • Use regulations and cost-shares as cost-effective options for reducing risk
  • Tap into nature-based solutions such as restoring wetlands, floodplains, and living shorelines to buffer against storms and absorb floodwaters
  • Communicate the benefits of adaptation efforts to engage stakeholders and improve participation and feedback
  • Make policy changes part of recovery efforts to help reduce future risk and impacts


Publication Date: November 2019

Related Organizations:

  • Pew Charitable Trusts


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Best practice
  • Case study


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