Flood Risk Management

A before picture of the flood protection project's stream bank stabilization for the Metro Nashville, Tenn. levee located on the Cumberland RiverThe after picture of the Metro Nashville, Tenn. levee stream bank stabilization project for flood risk reduction. The project also raised the height of the levee with earth fill and floodwalls.Although efforts of federal agencies, state and local governments, and tribal nations have reduced flood risk have been substantial, flooding still accounts for 90% of all natural disaster damage. Flooding forces several hundred thousand people to be evacuated from homes and work places every year. The purpose of the Corps of Engineers' flood risk management program is to help prevent or reduce flood risk by using either structural or non-structural means or a combination of the two.

Structural Measures: Structural measures are physical modifications designed to reduce the frequency of damaging levels of flood inundation. Structural flood risk management measures include dams and reservoirs, channel modifications, levees or floodwalls.

Non-Structural Measures: Non-structural measures reduce flood damages without significantly altering the nature or extent of the flooding by changing the use of floodplains or by accommodating existing uses to the flood hazard. Non-structural measures include modifying homes, businesses, and other facilities to reduce flood damages by elevating the structure or removing them from the floodplain. Remaining land can be used for ecosystem restoration, outdoor recreation, or natural open space. Flood warning systems are also considered non-structural measures.

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 What the Corps of Engineers Can Do:
The Corps of Engineers has been authorized by Congress to perform flood risk management. These services can be performed under two different types of authorities: (1) specifically authorized flood risk management projects, and (2) CAP. Each of the authorities requires a study process and a cost share sponsor before implementation of a project.
 Study Process (Specifically Authorized Studies and Projects):
Before the Federal Government can participate in implementing a project, the USACE must conduct a two phase study. The first phase is reconnaissance. This phase is used to make a preliminary determination whether there is federal interest in further studying the problem. The reconnaissance phase is completed upon the signing of a FCSA by the USACE and the cost-share sponsor. By signing the FCSA, the second phase can be initiated, called a feasibility study. This study evaluated a wide range of alternatives and recommends the best solution from economic and environmental perspectives.
 Cost to Fund the Phases:

Reconnaissance Phase:
The reconnaissance phase is fully funded by the Federal Government (limited to $100,000) and is usually completed in less than 12 months.

Feasibility Phase:
The feasibility phase is 100% federally funded up to the first $100,000.  Any feasibility costs above $100,000 are cost-shared equally at 50% federal and 50% non-federal.  The non-federal share of feasibility phase costs may be a combination of cash and in-kind products or services. The feasibility phase can take up to three years to complete if adequate funding is received in a timely manner.

A recommendation for federal participation precedes a recommendation for construction authorization. The recommendation for implementation is forwarded to Congress to ultimately decide if the project will be authorized.

 Project Implementation and Local Partnership:

Following authorization for construction of a project, the sponsor enters into a Project Partnership Agreement to define the responsibilities of each party. The sponsor must normally agree to the following:

  • Provide without cost to the United States all lands, easements, rights-of-way, relocations and disposal areas (LERRDs) necessary for the construction and subsequent maintenance of the project;
  • Provide without cost to the United States all necessary alterations of buildings, utilities, highways, bridges, sewers, and related and special facilities;
  • Hold and save the United States free from damages due to the construction and subsequent maintenance of the project, except damages due to the fault or negligence of the United States or its contractors;
  • Maintain and operate the project after completion without cost to the United States;
  • Prevent future encroachment, which might interfere with proper functioning of the project;
  • Assume responsibility for all costs in excess of applicable Federal cost limitations;
  • If the value of the sponsor’s contribution above does not equal or exceed 35% of the project cost, provide a cash contribution to make the sponsor’s total contribution equal to 35%.

How to Request Assistance

Requests for assistance can be made by phone, email, or letter.  A Letter of Intent from a state or local government agency is needed before federal funding can be requested.  Click on the Example Letters of Intent tab on the left to view/download letters.
For more information contact:
Chief, Project Planning Branch or Chief, Plan Formulation Section
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District
110 9th Avenue South
Room A405
Nashville, TN 37203

Phone: (615) 736-7865
Email: CELRN-Customer-Outreach@usace.army.mil