Public Comment for P.L. 84-99 Rehabilitation Inspection Program (RIP) rulemaking closed April 14, 2015.
View the interim policy for determining eligibility status of flood risk management projects for RIP pursuant to P.L. 84-99.
The interim policy became effective March 21, 2014, and consists of using a sub-set of the existing inspection checklist to determine the status in RIP.
The Corps is continuing in the process of revising its policies relating to eligibility criteria for levee and coastal projects within its P.L. 84-99 RIP.
The Corps published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) in the Federal Register, entitled "Emergency Employment of Army and Other Resources, Natural Disaster Procedures," to help obtain public input on the policy concepts being considered. The docket number is COE-2015-0004.
This solicitation of public input was an optional mechanism in the rulemaking process. However, before making any changes to policies, it is crucial to get feedback from those whom these policies will affect the most.
Some of the concepts included in the revised USACE policy are the removal of inspection ratings as the sole determining factor in the determination of eligibility requirements for RIP; and the development of new eligibility requirements that focus on meeting basic eligibility requirements plus demonstrated emergency preparedness, outreach, and project operation and maintenance activities.
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The Baltimore District currently has 150 miles of federally-constructed levees in the Corps Levee Safety Program throughout Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, DC.
The Corps Levee Safety Program works to better understand, prioritize, and manage the flood risks associated with levees. The program's mission is to ensure levee systems provide benefit to the Nation by working with sponsors and stakeholders to assess, communicate, and manage the flood risks to people, property, and the environment.
Although some may believe that the Corps manages all levees in the nation, the levees included in the Corps Levee Safety Program represent only about 10 percent of the nation’s levees. Managing risk is a shared responsibility, therefore, the Corps works closely with federal, state, local, and international partners to share information and develop flood risk management solutions.
In 2006, the Corps revamped its Levee Safety Program - inspecting and assessing the 2,500 levee systems in its portfolio, refining its levee inspection program, and revising its levee safety policies and procedures. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided funds to jumpstart levee periodic inspections - a more detailed inspection conducted once every five years.
The results of Corps levee inspections determine continued eligibility for the Levee Safety Program’s Rehabilitation and Inspection Program (RIP), which is the Corps’ authority to provide federal aid in repairing levees damaged by floods or storms. They also provide a better picture of levee conditions - an important step in our shared efforts with state and local authorities to communicate flood risk and make informed decisions on how best to manage it.
The Corps also maintains the National Levee Database (NLD). The NLD provides information about the location and condition of levees and floodwalls near you, displayed in an easy-to-use map interface, as well as reports, inspection ratings and summaries, and other records. You can enter a zip code within certain in the "Find Levees Near Me" module and receive a listing of levees nearby, or see a map showing the levee and the leveed area. You may also search by selecting "Baltimore" as the organization when clicking on the "Basic System Reporting" module and selecting other key identifiers, as applicable. You can view the levee data in combination with other Geographic Information Systems data, including real-time data from sources such as stream gauges and weather radar. If you are having issues using the NLD, the NLD Help tab offers tutorials to guide you to the information you are seeking. To view Baltimore District's levee inspection status, you may also click the link at the right module.
The Baltimore District regularly inspects levees within the Corps Levee Safety Program inventory to monitor their overall condition, identify potential deficiencies, verify that needed maintenance is taking place, determine eligibility for the federal rehabilitation assistance (in accordance with P.L. 84-99), and provide the public with information about their levees.
Each levee segment receives an overall segment inspection rating of Acceptable, Minimally Acceptable, or Unacceptable. What these ratings mean and how they are determined can be viewed in the levee inspection checklist. Deficiencies in a system may be caused by excessive vegetation on the levees, animal burrows, erosion, sediment in the outflows, etc. Though the ratings do not fully define the risk, they are important because they provide consistency in risk characterization, communication and risk reduction measures and help prioritize federal and local investments.
If a levee system comprises one or more levee segments (if there are different levee sponsors for different parts of the levee) then the overall levee system rating is the lowest of the segment ratings. This rating for operations and maintenance is based on the levee inspection checklist, which includes 125 specific items dealing with operation and maintenance of levee embankments, floodwalls, interior drainage, pump stations, and channels. The overall segment and system ratings are used to determine if the levee is eligible for federal rehabilitation assistance through the Rehabilitation and Inspection Program (P.L. 84-99).
Levees remain eligible if they are operated and maintained to certain standards by their non-federal sponsors. The Corps now offers sponsors a process through the system-wide improvement framework (SWIF) to remain temporarily eligible for assistance, while they correct unacceptable deficiencies in their projects over time to transition them to meet Corps standards.
There are two main types of inspections:
· Routine Inspection is a visual inspection to verify and rate levee system operations and maintenance. It is typically conducted each year for all levees in the Corps Levee Safety Program. The current ratings and inspection dates are available via the NLD website.
· Periodic Inspection is a comprehensive inspection conducted by a multidisciplinary team led by a professional engineer. USACE typically conducts this inspection every five years on the federally-authorized levees in the Levee Safety Program. Baltimore District conducted periodic inspections from 2009 to 2013 using district and contractor teams.
There are also inspections that are conducted after special circumstances like major flooding or an earthquake.
The Corps shares inspection results with the authority responsible for levee operations and maintenance, also known as the levee sponsor. The Corps also shares the results with FEMA, to help inform decisions about levee accreditation for flood insurance purposes.
More than 10 million people live or work behind Corps Levee Safety Program levees, and, in 2011, levee systems contributed to more than $120 billion in damages prevented. However, with these benefits, comes risks.
It is a priority for the Corps to assess how levees are expected to perform and what the potential consequences of non-performance would be. This places levee systems into a risk-informed context that provides a consistent and credible way to prioritize actions that will help manage the risks associated with owning or operating levees. The Corps uses risk assessments to prioritize life safety risks for its own levee safety activities, and also to provide a basis for communicating risk, so levee sponsors and other stakeholders can make more informed decisions.
Levees do not eliminate risk. Risk factors are always changing, and there are always risk factors we cannot know or control. Risk is managed by routine Levee Safety Program activities, including operations and maintenance, inspections and risk assessments.
The levee sponsor is responsible for operations, maintenance, repair, replacement, and rehabilitation of the levee system, and has the lead role in planning the path forward. The Corps can provide advisory help, technical assistance, or cost-shared construction. Government agencies at every level, as well as the private sector and the public, also have roles to play to ensure levees will perform as designed in the event of high water.
The Corps can support risk reduction activities not only through the Levee Safety Program, but also through the Flood Risk Management Program, Silver Jackets Program, and authorities such as Floodplain Management Services, Planning Assistance to States, Advance Measures, and others.
VIEW BALTIMORE DISTRICT'S LEVEE SYSTEM INSPECTION STATUS
Inspections in progress at the levee along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.
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The periodic inspection will take the place of the USACE annual, or routine, inspection for that year. The inspection team will recommend a system rating, acceptable, minimally acceptable or unacceptable, based upon the inspection checklist, to the District Levee Safety Officer (LSO). The District LSO will determine the final rating and inform the project sponsor of the inspection results. Inspections determine a levee system’s eligibility for federal rehabilitation assistance through the Corps’ Rehabilitation and Inspection program. In addition, the periodic inspection results may also include additional recommendations of items to monitor, identification of deficiencies, or areas that need further evaluation. This information will be communicated to the sponsor in order to decide next steps.
Neither the Routine Inspection nor the Periodic Inspection results in a levee certification for the NFIP, which is required to accredit a levee system for National Flood Insurance Program purposes. Certification for the NFIP focuses only on the 1% flood. The USACE Levee Safety Program focuses on projects designed and built for multiple levels of flood events, not just the 1% flood, which is an insurance standard, not a safety standard. Certification to the 1% flood does not eliminate risk. The Corps will provide periodic inspection results to the local project sponsor and FEMA. FEMA would then make the determination about the effect of the findings on its accreditation for the National Flood Insurance Program. If the Corps certified or evaluated the levee system it would review the certification in light of the inspection results.
Individual residents and businesses have a variety of actions that can be completed in order to reduce their exposure to risk related to the levee system.
• Listen for and follow instructions from local emergency management officials in the event of high water;
• Develop a personal, family or business emergency preparedness plan;
• Purchase flood insurance and consider flood proofing;
• Encourage elected local, county and state officials to make sound flood risk management decisions;
• Know your risk, know your role and take action to reduce your risk!
It means that one or more items that make up the levee system are rated as unacceptable and would prevent the system from performing as intended, or a serious deficiency noted in past inspections (which had previously resulted in a minimally acceptable system rating) has not been corrected within the established timeframe.
The Corps has previously conducted periodic inspections on levees, but recognized it needed to be more consistent with all levee systems within the Corps program. An effective safety program is a shared responsibility among all levels of government and includes periodic inspections and evaluations, continuous monitoring of levee systems, and builds upon changes and improvements to the state of the art of professional engineering practice. This allows us to better assess risk and uncertainty and reduce public safety and economic risks. The Corps has improved how it inspects and evaluates levees, which enables USACE to better communicate to the local sponsors and the public the overall condition and associated risks of levee systems. Improvements include a single, newly revised inspection checklist for inspections to be used on all levee systems within Corps authority.
A Routine Inspection, also called annual inspection or continuing eligibility inspection, is a visual inspection that verifies proper levee system operation and maintenance. These are conducted on an annual basis.
A Periodic Inspection verifies proper operation and maintenance, and provides a more rigorous level of assessment than the annual Routine Inspection. These inspections are conducted every five years.
The Periodic Inspection consists of 3 key steps:
1) Collection of existing and available data on operation and maintenance, previous inspection and engineering reports, emergency action plans, and flood-fighting records;
2) A field inspection, similar to a Routine Inspection, but with more detail, performed by a multidisciplinary team and led by a professional engineer; and
3) An inspection report that includes a rating for operation and mainte¬nance, and may include additional recommendations of items to monitor, deficiencies to repair, or areas that need further evaluation.
Both Routine and Periodic Inspections incorporate a consistent inspection checklist and will result in a levee system rating for operation and maintenance. This rating determines if a levee system is active in the USACE Levee Safety Program. Active levees in the Rehabilitation and Inspection Program (RIP) are eligible for federal rehabilitation funds (authorized by Public Law 84-99) for damages caused by a flood event.
The Corps has improved how it inspects and evaluates levees, which enables USACE to better communicate with the local sponsors and the public the overall expected operation and maintenance standards, the overall condition of the levee system and the associated risks of the system. Improvements include a single, newly revised inspection checklist for inspections to be used on all levee systems within Corps authority. Additionally, our infrastructure is aging. In some cases, the purposes for which it was designed may no longer be valid, such as a levee built for agricultural purposes that may now have urban development behind it.
Operation, maintenance, repair, rehabilitation and replacement activities are local sponsor responsibilities. The periodic inspection identifies components and features that require monitoring over time, such as erosion, settlement, vegetation and seepage. The periodic inspection will yield a rating that is based upon the annual inspection checklist, which are the responsibility of the local sponsor. Subject to the findings and authorities, the local sponsors will decide on options to pursue, which may include a project in coordination with the Corps or other partners.