New York Community Risk and Resiliency Act Implementation Guidance

In November 2020, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a series of four guidance documents to implement part of the New York Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA), as amended by the New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). The CRRA requires that state agencies consider future climate impacts as a part of certain planning, permitting, and funding actions. The CRRA also requires that the DEC issue guidance for state agencies and other audiences to implement the CRRA. In accordance with that requirement, DEC issued four guidance documents: (1) Using Natural Measures to Reduce the Risk of Flooding and Erosion, which describes natural resilience measures and their uses for reducing risks associated with erosion and flooding; (2) New York State Flood Risk Management Guidance, which presents recommendations to state agencies on considering flood risk in planning and project implementation; (3) a guide on Estimating Guideline Elevations, which presents the principles introduced in the New York State Flood Risk Management Guidance to assist planners, engineers, designers, and architects in flood mitigation project design; and (4) Guidance for Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Assessment, which provides general principles of climate risk mitigation that state agencies should follow when undertaking "smart growth assessments" required by the CRRA and other state statutes. While these guidance documents were developed by DEC to facilitate implementation of the New York Community Risk and Resiliency Act, much of the information presented is applicable to other jurisdictions that seek to manage floodplains in accordance with climate risks. 

The CRRA requires the DEC to issue guidance documents to implement the Act, including guidance on risk analysis tools and the use of natural measures to increase resilience and reduce risk (2014 N.Y. Sess. Laws ch. 355, sec. 16). Accordingly, the DEC issued these four guidance documents to fulfill that statutory requirement. Each of the guidance documents describes the CRRA and its requirements, presents specific principles or recommendations related to each discrete guidance, and includes additional resources to help state agencies comply with the CRRA. Each guidance document is described in further detail below. 

  1. Using Natural Measures to Reduce the Risk of Flooding and Erosion describes natural resilience measures and their flood and erosion risk reduction benefits. The guidance provides a comprehensive overview of different natural resilience measures (e.g., open space acquisition; streambank stabilization) and distinguishes between the different approaches to implementing natural resilience measures. The guidance also discusses the multiple benefits of implementing natural resilience measures (e.g., carbon sequestration; enhanced open space for recreation) and presents key considerations for designing and implementing natural resilience measures. Entities interested in learning more about natural resilience measures and the policy supporting their implementation will benefit from the various appendices in this guidance, which define natural features in different ecosystems; analyze the multiple benefits of natural resilience measures; compare the use and cost of natural resilience measures and hard structural measures within New York; and identify considerations for implementing natural resource measures in a changing climate. 
  2. The New York State Flood Risk Management Guidance provides direction for state agencies assessing whether proposals for building or repairing structures under certain CRRA-covered funding and permit programs have adequately considered risks stemming from sea-level rise, storm surge, and flooding. This guidance recommends three "general flood-risk management guideline elevations," as well as specific "guideline elevations" for discrete categories of structures (e.g., single-family residential structures; wastewater treatment plants). "Guideline elevations" are essentially general recommendations to determine where and how a structure should be sited to mitigate flood risk stemming from sea-level rise, flooding, and storm surge. The guidance also includes recommendations for the siting and building of transportation infrastructure in accordance with "guideline elevations." Further, the guidance includes a section entitled "Flood Risk Management," which describes how state agencies and local governments can address climate change and flood risk. The guidance also describes the existing state and federal regulatory structure for floodplain development and highlights initiatives at the state and federal levels to increase resilience to flooding. Finally, this guidance includes several appendices that present information on flood risks and decisionmaking to manage flood risk. This guidance will provide the basis for any program-specific guidance for programs subject to the requirements of the CRRA. 
  3. The guidance entitled Estimating Guideline Elevations repackages the information presented in the New York State Flood Risk Management Guidance for use by planners, floodplain managers, architects, and designers to encourage the appropriate use of guideline elevations in public infrastructure project design and siting decisions. First, the guidance identifies several mapping resources that can be used to estimate guideline elevations and flood risk in project areas. Next, the guidance includes a table that summarizes the flood risk management guidelines, and the estimation method for calculating the guideline, for various categories of infrastructure. Finally, the guidance presents eight methods for estimating guideline elevations and identifies the areas and types of projects appropriate for evaluation under each method. 
  4. The Guidance for Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Assessment identifies principles for determining whether public infrastructure projects contribute to the "smart growth" of New York's communities. The guidance describes how the CRRA amended the New York Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Policy Act to require that "smart growth criteria" for assessing public infrastructure projects include how climate-related flood risks can be mitigated. The guidance also describes "smart growth assessments" (i.e., statements produced by an agency, and assessed by "Smart Growth Advisory" committees, to determine whether "smart growth" criteria were considered in developing a proposed project) and includes principles that infrastructure agencies can follow when determining whether a public infrastructure project meets the "smart growth" criterion. Finally, the guidance identifies several resources that may assist policymakers leading public infrastructure planning efforts, like publications describing green infrastructure, tools for assessing flood risk, and case studies detailing stakeholder engagement efforts in resilience planning.

Publication Date: November 4, 2020

Related Organizations:

  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Related Resources:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Agency guidance/policy

States Affected:


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