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Guest Documents
12/02/1891 The Skagit River Valley: Its Great Agricultural and Mineral Richness

A gushing report in the December 2, 1891 New York Times proclaiming the Skagit Valley "is the most productive freight valley of its size in the world1"

12/1909 Melvin Nelson Letter RE: The Skagit Flood of 1909 A personal experience of the 1909 flood.
12/9/1909 Skagit County Courier: Skagit River Breaks Loose, courtesy of Deanna Ammons, Clear Lake Historical Society Article description of flooding in Burlington conflicts with Burlington newspaper “The Journal” (See 12/3/09, 12/3/09).  Interesting description of how Skagit almost cut across Sterling Bend.
12/10/1909 Grace E. Nelson Letter About the 1909 Flood “Your letter which we got has been up in Mt Vernon for three days, the mail came today for the first time this week. We have had an aful flood the worst I ever saw. It was in peoples houses so far up that they had to come to the ridge. La Conner is all so flooded. The water has gone down on this side but on the other side the tide comes in from the slough, so it backs up to the ridge.”
1/1922 The Clear Lake News: Flood Submerges Clear Lake and the Surrounding Country, courtesy of Deanna Ammons, Clear Lake Historical Society This was a “company” newspaper. Description of 1921 flood shows that they were using a different datum for gages back then they do now. 46 feet two days before the flood crested is 4 feet above where river crested in 2003. The description of flooding in Clear Lake is exactly what happened in 1990.
10/19/1927 The Influence Of A Power Dam In Modifying Conditions Affecting The Migration Of The Salmon, by Dr. Henry B. Ward, University of Illinois This document was retrieved from the University of Illinois.  Dr. Henry B. Ward first came to Skagit County in 1925.  "Dr. Henry B. Ward, professor of zoology at the University of Illinois and who is known as the leading authority in the United States on the sockeye salmon is spending several weeks in this city and at Baker lake is trying to study out some feasible means of getting the salmon past the power dam of the Stone & Webster company on the Baker river to the spawning grounds at Baker lake, and of getting the small salmon fry from the government hatchery at the lake down the Baker on their way to salt water."  (See 7/29/25 C.H.)  This is one of the first salmon studies ever performed in Skagit County.
3/14/1929 Flood Predictions From Storm Paths, Preflood River Stages, Precipitation Data, And Peak River Stages by James E. Stewart and E.T. Schuleen, West Virginia Power and Transmission Company, Pittsburg, PA., courtesy of the American Metrological Society, The only other paper that has been located that Mr. Stewart ever authored. This one deals with a "working method of making flood predictions from storm paths, preflood river stages, precipitation data, and peak river stages on the Cheat River in West Virginia."
1954 An Investigation of the Effect of Baker Dam on Downstream-Migrant Salmon - Full Report

The conclusions reached in this report show that “95% of the migrants leaving the reservoir used the surface spillway as their exit route and that less than 5% left through the turbine intake.”  Further the report concludes that In considering the rates of return of marked sockeye it is quite evident that the spillway fish suffered a higher mortality than the tunnel fish and that both suffered a higher mortality than the river releases” and “64% of the native Sockeye and 54% of the native Coho were killed in passing down the spillway.”

1972 Rebuilding the Once Great Salmon Runs of Swinomish Channel This document was provided to me by the Washington Bulb Company and describes the reasons that the former Washington State Department of Fisheries director felt were the reasons for the demise of the salmon runs in Swinomish Slough.
1976 Selected Transcripts from 1976 Public Hearings in WWU Booklet: "Of man, time, and a river : the Skagit river, how should it be used?" Selection of seven transcripts put together by Western Washington University  of 1976 public hearing snippets regarding the Skagit River's relationship to the Skagit Valley.  These essays include the Corps of Engineers involvement with the river, early flood control efforts, farming in the Skagit Valley and also hydropower.
6/1994 Sharing the Challenge: Floodplain Management Into the 21st Century - the Report of the Interagency Floodplain Management Review Committee

All of those who support risky behavior, either directly or indirectly, must share in floodplain management and in the costs of reducing that risk. The federal government can lead by example; but state and local governments must manage their own floodplains. Individual citizens must adjust their actions to the risk they face and bear a greater share of the economic costs. ... By controlling runoff, managing ecosystems for all their benefits, planning the use of the land and identifying those areas at risk; many hazards can be avoided. Where the risk cannot be avoided, damage minimization approaches, such as elevation and relocation of buildings or construction of reservoirs or flood protection structures, are used only when they can be integrated into a systems approach to flood damage reduction in the basin. When floods occur, impacts on individuals and communities can be mitigated with a flood insurance program that is funded by those who are protected. Full disaster support for those in the floodplain is contingent on their participation in these self-help mitigation programs. Measures that internalize risks reduce the moral hazard associated with full government support.

11/13/1995 Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce: Hatchery fish hurt wild salmon stocks “Hatcheries unintentionally have contributed to the over-harvesting of wild stocks, ecological changes in the salmon environment and reduction of overall genetic diversity,” said the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences. “The long-term survival of salmon depends crucially on a diverse and rich store of genetic variation ... We have already lost a substantial portion of the genetic diversity that existed in these salmon species 150 years ago.”
1997 The Price of Taming a River: The Decline of Puget Sound’s Duwamish/Green Waterway Chapter Two: The Flood of November 1906 “The major recommended levees or dikes as the cheapest and most effective way of keeping the river in the valley where it should be.”  Read the chapter to see what happened...
2/29/2004 Draft Assessment of Potential Habitat Restoration Pathways for Fir Island, WA “Through a partnership with Seattle City Light, the Skagit System Cooperative, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the SWC commissioned this study to evaluate the feasibility and potential of alternative pathways for salmon habitat restoration that focus on the Fir Island portion of the Skagit Delta.”
5/17/2004 City of Anacortes Water Treatment Plant Brochure: Flood on the Skagit Pamphlet explaining recent Skagit River flood history plus how the Anacortes Water Treatment Plant prepares for floods.
3/10/2006 Memo to LaConner Town Council from Dan O’Donnell Gave three choices to town: 1) Do nothing; 2) Build a berm to protect LaConner; and 3) Work with Corps and build certified levee.
9/11/2006 Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce: "Revised flood maps will put a damper on development" Revision of flood elevation maps by FEMA in Green River and Skagit River valleys raises concerns of citizens as well as the ire of citizens affected.
10/4/2006 Flood Insurance Primer Dan O'Donnell writes a great column about the flood insurance situation in LaConner and mentions this website in the 4 October 2006 Channel Town Press.

New York Times: After More Than a Century of Soaking, Washington Town Mulls Move to Higher Ground

Article profiles the Town of Hamilton's flood problem and evacuation efforts.  Please check out the website referenced in this news article.


Seattle Times: Awash In Trouble

In depth article by Bill Dietrich depicting flooding problems on the Skagit River.


Skagit Valley Herald: Milt Priggee Editorial Cartoon

Milt Priggee draws an illustrative cartoon of the lack of cooperation between the Corps of Engineers and the SRIP.
10/24/2007 Dan O’Donnell Memo for La Conner City Government, Re: FEMA flood maps

Comments of Dan O'Donnell re his observations at the Oct 23 meeting re the FEMA appeal.

Jan-Feb 2008 Weatherwise "California Washed Away: The Great Flood of 1862" by Jan Null and Joelle Hulbert "California's 30 days of rain in December 1861 and January 1862 was the equivalent of at least a 30.000-year [flood] event."
1/15/2008 Draft Recommendations for a National Levee Safety Program from the National Committee on Levee Safety

The current levee safety reality for the United States is stark— uncertainty in location, performance and condition of levees and a lack of oversight, technical standards, and effective communication of risks. A look to the future offers two distinct possibilities: one where we continue the status quo and await the certainty of more catastrophes or one where we take reasonable actions and investments in a National Levee Safety Program that turns the tide on risk growth. We strongly recommend the latter.

02/2008 Michael Baker Corporation Presentation: NO ADVERSE IMPACT: Preserving Our Watersheds; Protecting Our Property Rights

176-slide presentation on legal and ethical issues of floodplain development.

2/23/2008 The Courier of Findlay, Ohio: Educator: No simple solution for flooding "Robert McCall, an Ohio State University Extension educator who focuses on watershed management" explains why, in pithy generalities, the flood risk is increasing and what can be done to reduce the risk.
2/29/2008 Flooding in the Chehalis River Basin: Synthesis WSDOT eleven page summary of the continual problems with the Chehalis River basin. 
3/6/2008 Daryl Hamburg Essay: Food For Thought, Skagit River System Dike District 17 Commissioner essay begins with, "We can no longer look at flood control as a protection device. Levies do not protect communities. They REDUCE RISK. Thus we are not capable of protecting our public from the forces of the mighty Skagit River."
04/01/08 Washington University in St. Louis: Geologist decries floodplain development

This article should be must reading for all residents of Skagit and Lewis County.

"When people build commercial or residential real estate in flood plains, when they build on sink holes, when they build on fault lines, when they build on the hillsides in L.A. that are going to burn and burn, over and over again, they're ignoring geologic reality," Criss says. "They're asking for chronic problems."

"Everyone screams for more levees, which only encourage more development," he says. "These structures are not infallible, and when the levees fail — and they will, carefully though they are built — we just have more infrastructure in harm's way. It's not a very thoughtful approach.

4/30/2008 Ayn Rand Institute: How Government Makes Disasters More Disastrous “The Katrina tragedy should have called into question the so-called safety net composed of government policies that actually encourage people to embrace risks they would otherwise shun--to build in defiance of historically obvious dangers, secure in the knowledge that innocent others will be forced to share the costs when the worst happens.
5/28/2008 Wenatchee World Editorial: Good work for salmon at sea We have talked, argued, studied and invested billions in the last 30 years to help more salmon migrate from their birthplace to the Pacific. Much less has been said about how to get more mature salmon back from the sea, to perform the essential function of reproducing.”  Not eating them would help.
6/17/2008 FEMA: The elephant in the middle of the room An excellent discussion of flood insurance versus flood control from Melissa L. Gaffney, a reporter for The Courier: Voice of the Bayshore of Middletown, New Jersey and the blogger behind SableMinded.
6/25/2008 Popular Mechanics: 13 Tough Questions for the Army Corps of Engineers' Flood Reconstruction Chief 13 questions “with Eric Halpin, the Special Assistant for Dam and Levee Safety for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, about flood response lessons learned and just how far the Corps can go in preventing disasters.”
7/11/2008 Rep. Rick Larsen Letter to Steve Barger, President of Associated General Contractors of Washington

“Knowing of the Associated General Contractors of Washington's interest in Skagit River flood control efforts, I wanted to update you as to my efforts in Congress in regards to the Skagit River General Investigation study, flood control projects and FEMA's current flood mapping of Skagit County.”

8/2008 Natural Hazards Center Quick Response Report: Business Recovery Related to High-Frequency Natural Hazard Events

“In December 2007, flooding in southwest Washington caused widespread damage to more than 200 businesses and farms. The Institute for Global and Community Resilience (IGCR) at Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment received a Quick Response Grant from the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado to research the effects of this flood on businesses in Centralia and Chehalis, Washington. Working with local Offices of Economic Development, IGCR administered a 28-question survey to document risk perception and preparedness, impacts, and recovery strategies. Of the 63 businesses surveyed, 37 were flooded businesses and 26 were unflooded businesses. Analysis of the survey results showed that risk perception and preparedness were low prior to the flood.”

12/03/2008 American Council Of Engineering Companies Position Paper on Levee Certification and Design

“Rising sea levels which increase flood severity, changing demographics, lack of hazard management considerations in controlling land use in flood hazard zones, and similar factors are escalating flood losses. For economic reasons the design standard is often set at a level that eventually will be exceeded. Catastrophic loss is near certain over time. Property owners in those areas protected by well-constructed levees capable of being certified are not required to (and often do not) purchase flood insurance.

2009 ASCE Report Card on Infrastructure: Levees “There is no definitive record of how many levees there are in the U.S., nor is there an assessment of the current condition and performance of those levees. Recent surveys by the Association of State Dam Safety Officials and the Association of State Floodplain Managers found that only 10 states keep any listing of levees within their borders and only 23 states have an agency with some responsibility for levee safety. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that levees are found in approximately 22% of the nation’s 3,147 counties. Forty-three percent of the U.S. population lives in counties with levees. Many of those levees were designed decades ago to protect agricultural and rural areas, not the homes and businesses that are now located behind them.”
2009 What Homeowners Need to Know About National Flood Insurance! “You may not think you live near enough to water to be at risk, but dams and levees do break, drainage systems can become overloaded and back up, and hurricanes can veer off path. Protecting your home and belongings with flood insurance is far less costly than cleaning up after the fact. Nor can you depend upon Presidential Disaster Declaration aid. Even if such a declaration is made for your area, it can be a long time before the money arrives.”
2/2009 Fisher Slough Fact Sheet “Fisher Slough historically supported dynamic tidal and non-tidal wetlands. To claim land for agricultural purposes, tide gates and levees were installed decades ago. Today, the slough and its lower tributaries are confined and filled with invasive non-native plants; the historic alluvial fan has been eliminated; and natural flooding and tidal events are almost non-existent. The net results are a reduction in extent and diversity of wetlands, reduced accessibility for fish, degraded water quality and a reduction in flood storage capacity.”
2/2009 Fisher Slough Project Maps Two pages of maps showing how the Nature Conservancy and other partners work to restore Fisher Slough on the South Fork Skagit River to its natural habitat and floodplain management capacities.
4/4/2009 NASA Earth Observatory 10th Anniversary: The Red River Flood Plain

The repetition of flooding in the Red River basin is mostly due to its topographic setting and geologic history.

4/7/2009 Fargo, Moorhead grapple with how best to protect region against future flooding

Before a flood, developers and people looking for dream homes with woodsy river views may put irresistible pressure on local governments to go easy on restrictions. After a flood, areas targeted for clearing may defend their neighborhoods as economically vital, aesthetically valuable or historically important, and officials may fear chasing them away.

5/29/2009 GAO-09-369 Highlights - FEMA Has Made Progress, but Needs to Complete and Integrate Planning, Exercise, and Assessment Efforts “The lack of clarity in response roles and responsibilities among the diverse set of responders contributed to the disjointed response to Hurricane Katrina and highlighted the need for clear, integrated disaster preparedness and response policies and plans.”
6/3/2009 story: Drowning Jackson “For most of the past century, the answer to flooding was to straighten rivers or strategically dam them up. There was no problem human ingenuity couldn’t dredge or concrete its way out of.  It was only after we developed a deeper understanding of our environment and began to see the long-term destruction imposed by such projects that we began to reverse our strategy.”
6/4/2009 Mud fight on the Skagit “Washington state law directs local governments to preserve wetlands and farmlands. These twin directives have run splat up against each other in a soggy little creek drainage east of Mt. Vernon, in the Skagit Valley.”
6/26/2009 Center for Environmental Law & Policy Comments on WA Dept. of Ecology Skagit River Water Supply Plan Water is a state-owned and managed resource, and people outside the Skagit watershed and not connected to the Flow Management and/or Water Resources Advisory committees have interests in Skagit water management and its impacts on growth, salmon habitat and other related issues.
7/4/2009 A Flood Insurance Primer - Why Are So Few Homeowners Insured? “Flood insurance was a hot topic in the wake of Gulf Coast hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The lesson taken away from those disasters from a flood insurance perspective was generally the right one - The Congressionally-mandated flood insurance program does not work. Not nearly enough people buy flood insurance - ironically, far fewer buy mandatory flood insurance than would if the market were allowed to educate the public and convince them to buy it.

(Matt Barr is the former Communications Director with a la mode, inc. a mortgage technology company based in Oklahoma City. )
9/16/2009 National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Presentation to the 2009 Northwest Regional Floodplain Management Association (NORFMA): Puget Sound NFIP BiOp: Benefits for Public Safety and the Environment 39 slide presentation to Northwest Regional Floodplain Management Association (NORFMA) about impacts of National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on climate change's impact on floodplains plus alleges, “Most development in coasts and floodplains dependent on NFIP insurance.”
9/16/2009 NOAA Fisheries Presentation to NORFMA on BiOp NOAA explains what they perceive is the NFIP's affects on the floodplain as well as how their Reasonable and Prudent Alternative will work.
9/16/2009 NORFMA Alternative CFM Exam A satirical presentation on the basic terminology Certified Flood Managers must know... the editorial cartoon on page 17 says a 1,000 words in one picture.
10/3/2009 New York Times: Scarcity of King Salmon Hurt Alaskan Fishermen Report on how the loss of Pacific salmon is not restricted to Washington State, but spreading to southwest Alaska.
10/6/2009 American Society of Civil Engineers: So You Live Behind A Levee! “All rivers, streams, and lakes will flood eventually. There are no exceptions. Given enough time, any levee will eventually be overtopped or damaged by a flood that exceeds the levee’s capacity.” 
11/4/2009 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Paper: The National Flood Insurance Program: Factors Affecting Actuarial Soundness “Despite those factors, FEMA’s full-risk rates may be too low overall because the agency uses some outdated or incomplete information in its rate-setting—specifically, in its maps of areas at risk of flooding and its models of flood frequency and severity. Many flood maps are too old to reflect recent erosion of coastlines, decreases in permeable ground area because of wetland loss and economic development, or increases in sea level. FEMA’s policy of grandfathering properties in a previous zone or elevation class can also be seen as a case of basing rates on information that is out of date. Moreover, FEMA’s models of flood frequency and severity may understate actual risks because they do not reflect the effects of global climate change.”
11/13/2009 National Mortgage Professional: FEMA seeks feedback on National Flood Insurance Program “The NFIP is currently running a deficit of more than $19 billion. “Clearly this deficit is not sustainable,” said Mary Colvin, Acting Division Director for Mitigation, FEMA, Region II, which covers New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “We are looking for ways to revitalize the program, and want input from policy holders, local officials and flood plain managers, everyone.” 
11/23/2009 High Country News: After the Floods “About 15,000 years ago near the end of the last ice age, a lobe of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet, which covered much of Alaska and western Canada, stretched south to what is now Sandpoint, Idaho, blocking the Clark Fork River with an ice dam over 2,000 feet tall and 2,200 feet thick.”
3/3/2010 Water Resources Development Act of 2007 Public Law 110-114: A Report on Implementation in the Third Year “Section 2034 of WRDA 2007 established independent review requirements for certain project studies Reviews are required if the project cost is expected to exceed $45 million, if the governor of an affected state requests a review, and if the Chief of Engineers determines that a project is controversial. A project may also be subject to independent review if the head of a federal or state resource agency determines that the project is likely to have a significant adverse impact on environmental, cultural, or other resources under the agency's jurisdiction.”
3/11/2010 The Hawk Eye: Corps, levee district butt heads (again) Unlike in Skagit County, Washington, P.L. 84-99 is being enforced in Henderson County, Illinois.
3/22/2010 The Story of Bottled Water: How Manufactured Demand Pushes What We Don't Need and Destroys What We Need Most The Story of Bottled Water, released on March 22, 2010 (World Water Day) employs the Story of Stuff style to tell the story of manufactured demand—how you get Americans to buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week when it already flows from the tap. Over five minutes, the film explores the bottled water industry's attacks on tap water and its use of seductive, environmental-themed advertising to cover up the mountains of plastic waste it produces.
4/2010 Institute for Policy Integrity: The Distributional Consequences of the NFIP “The program encourages building in floodplains by providing insurance policies that private insurers find too risky to write. The less expensive it is to insure a property in the floodplain against loss, the stronger the incentive to build in that floodplain and the more risk becomes concentrated in areas covered by the NFIP. The geographic concentration of risk helped to create the debt crisis the program faces today: a single flood event can affect a great number of covered properties, none of which have paid insurance premiums at a market rate.”
4/2010 University of Washington Climate Impacts Group Draft Report “Under a warmer future climate, more winter precipitation falling as rain, rather than snow, will intensify winter flood risk for warmer transient basins.”
4/9/2010 Seattle Times: Dams, dikes and dredging: Can we 'fix' our rivers? “Where we have created a dike-dependent built environment, removing entire systems is not a viable option. But do levees really protect? Herein lies a contradiction. Levees seldom reduce risk. They reduce the frequency of flooding at the cost of increasing the magnitude.”
5/16/2010 Everett Herald: Glacier Peak Hazard Zones A must-see graphic on the Everett Herald website on the “very high threat” that Glacier Peak is.
See also: Everett Herald: Our volcano: Glacier Peak is the hidden threat in our back yard
5/16/2010 Everett Herald: Our volcano: Glacier Peak is the hidden threat in our back yard Glacier Peak is one of 18 volcanoes in the U.S. listed as a “very high threat.” It made the list because its historical record shows it erupts frequently and on a large scale. It last erupted about 240 years ago, just before the Revolutionary War, and its last major eruption was about 1,800 years ago.
See also: Everett Herald: Glacier Peak Hazard Zones
5/19/2010 US Senator David Vitter Press Release: Vitter Secures Corps Reform Commitments, Pushes for Further Accountability “From the beginning, this disagreement was about holding the Corps' feet to the fire and demanding that a broken and irresponsible bureaucracy be held accountable.  ...  In addition to the Corps’ promises to meet its deadlines, Vitter is working to further reform the Corps by attempting to secure language in the next the Water Resources Development Act that would request that the Corps be penalized $100,000 per week from its salaries and expenses accounts for each week a statutory deadline is missed or ignored.
5/26/2010 The Columbia Daily Tribune - Taming the River “Enter the Army Corps of Engineers, the hapless agency years ago given the impossible task of satisfying irreconcilable differences so many generations in the making. Finally the corps came up with a plan for water management, but after a few years complaining persists and Congress has commissioned a $25 million study. Nobody, including the group conducting the study, thinks it is likely to bring mutual happiness. Apparently Congress had to do something, so we shall have another study.

Sound like Skagit County?
6/2010 Selections from Updated Media Guidebook for Natural Hazards in Washington Clippings from a guidebook originally issued in 2006, prepared by federal & state agencies regarding geologic-based natural risks in Washington State and updated in June 2010.  “This guidebook supplies background information about volcano hazards and an overview of the notification process used to send volcano alerts to emergency and land managers, the media, emergency broadcasters, and the public. It includes background information about volcanic hazards expectable at Washington volcanoes, maps showing areas most susceptible to these hazards, a volcano warning flow chart that shows how information is sent to emergency management and local media, and a list of published resources and specialists who can provide credible volcano information.”  
6/7/2010 Letter from Western Washington State Congressional Delegation to Assistant Secretary for Civil Works, Army “Additionally, as you know, several populations of salmon in Washington State are listed species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). As a result of this listing, levee operators in the impacted Washington river basins must comply with the ESA, which in most cases means vegetation that provides shade to cool the water temperature must be planted on a levee. Levees required to be in compliance with the ESA could simultaneously be in conflict with proposed Corps vegetation standards if no variance is kept in place. This could also result in levees being decertified or not being accredited if the FEMA standards are not met.”
6/9/2010 Recent GAO Work on Disaster Recovery: FEMA’s Long-term Assistance Was Helpful to State and Local Governments but Had Some Limitations GAO Presentation to the 13th Annual FEMA Emergency Management Higher Education Conference.  One of GAO's recommendations was, Establish a long-term recovery structure that more effectively aligns the timing and level of federal involvement with the capacity and needs of of state and local governments in the wake of contradictory guidance.
7/7/2010 Snoqualmie Valley Preservation Alliance: Citizen group takes legal action against Army Corps of Engineers over flooding Calling legal action “the only means to dig out the truth about increased flooding,” the Snoqualmie Valley Preservation Alliance (SVPA), a nonprofit group of farmers and residents in the Snoqualmie Valley, today filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the U.S, Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). At issue is the Corps' approval of a new Snoqualmie Falls river widening project by Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and the Corps' complete failure to consider whether the project will cause flooding in the lower valley.
7/20/2010 US Senator Patty Murray: Senator Murray Secures Funding for Critical Washington State Water Priorities Senator Murray gets $1.137 Million for Skagit GI Study thru part of Congressional appropriation process.  Says, This funding would allow the Army Corps of Engineers to analyze possible flood control projects to protect citizens and infrastructure that would be impacted by a flood event on the Skagit River.
8/12/2010 NWCN/KING 5: Skagit County citizens say new flood maps cause deep problems "The problem is the way the data was compiled," says Chal Martin, Public Works Director for Skagit County. "FEMA predicts that one or all of the levees along the river will fail in a flood. We don't ever expect that to happen."
9/2/2010 DON L. FITZPATRICK ET AL. v. OKANOGAN COUNTY - Washington Supreme Court Decision “The owners' theory was that the road and dike work impacted the river by cutting off natural overflow channels in the floodplain, thereby forcing all of the flow during the high-water event into the main channel and onto their property. The availability of the common enemy defense turned on whether the water in question was surface water or water in a natural watercourse. That was a factual question. Because there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether the water at issue was water in a natural watercourse or surface water and whether the damage to the owners' property was a necessary incident to defendants' work on the dike, the trial court erred in granting summary judgment.”
9/8/2010 The BiOp and Beyond: Fixing Floodplain Management Problems National Wildlife Federation presentation to NORFMA 2010 on their vision of floodplain management after the BiOp finding the NFIP a threat to wildlife.  Includes stellar graphics on development encroachment into floodplains - especially slides 20-23.
9/8/2010 The Dallas Experience: NFIP and Levee Accreditation A HNTB Presentation how HNTB restored aging Dallas levees to health.  Notes that, “California’s State Engineer, William Hammond Hall, reportedly stated: “…There are two kinds of levees, those that have failed and those that will fail.” 
9/22/2010 GAO Director of Financial Markets and Community Investment Testimony to Congress: Continued Actions Needed to Address Financial and Operational Issues of National Flood Insurance Program “Congress and FEMA intended that the NFIP’s operating expenses and flood insurance claims would be paid with premiums collected by the program rather than with tax dollars. But the program is, by design, not actuarially sound, for several reasons. First, NFIP does not operate like private insurance companies. For example, FEMA is not structured to build a capital surplus, is likely unable to purchase reinsurance to cover high or catastrophic losses, cannot accept or reject applicants to help manage risk, and is subject to statutory limits on rate increases. Second, many property owners pay premium rates that do not reflect the full, long-term risk of flooding. Almost 25 percent of property owners pay subsidized premium rates, and even “full-risk” premium rates may not reflect the actual risk of flooding. Further, NFIP allows some property owners to continue to pay rates that do not reflect reassessments of their properties’ flood risk (“grandfathered rates”). Finally, NFIP must continue to insure repetitive loss properties, which represent only 1 percent of flood insurance policies but account for 25 to 30 percent of claims.”
9/26/2010 Quake-hit residents may sue council A New Zealand community is dealing with the likely litigious aftermath of an earthquake striking a geologically unsafe area that a council allowed developers to develop kind of like Burlington.
10/01/2010 Wulf Jr. vs. Bank of America Complaint The lawsuit alleges that Bank of America unfairly requires its customers to purchase and maintain unnecessary and excessive flood insurance for their property, in amounts greater than necessary to secure their outstanding principal balance or credit line, without any reasonable basis or justification and without clearly, conspicuously, or adequately disclosing such requirements in the relevant loan and mortgage documents. The lawsuit further alleges that Bank of America sent form letters to borrowers misrepresenting flood insurance requirements under federal law. The plaintiffs are seeking a judicial declaration that Bank of America violated the law, an injunction preventing Bank of America from engaging in future legal violations, and monetary relief for Bank of America’s alleged prior violations. Among other things, Plaintiffs seek reimbursement of all unfair and excessive premiums, statutory penalties, punitive damages, interest, and costs and attorneys’ fees.
10/30/2010 Seattle Times Column: Route to trace wonders of Central Washington ice-age floods “Whether the trail is followed for a few hours or a few weeks, the mental image is powerful once the story is absorbed: During the most recent ice age, which began about 18,000 years ago, ice pushed south into what's now northern Idaho, damming the Clark Fork River drainage. Water backed up to form glacial Lake Missoula — 500 cubic miles of water in a lake 200 miles across and as much as 2,000 feet deep. Over time, the immense water pressure broke through the ice, blasting the equivalent of the combined water of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario west toward the Pacific. Standing in the way was what we now call Washington state.”
11/2010 US Forest Service: Suiattle Access and Travel Management Plan “The proposal is to determine what roads to retain, what roads are no longer needed, and which of a variety of road treatments will be implemented on roads in the Suiattle River watershed. The purpose of the proposal is to align the size of the Forest Service road system with projected road maintenance budgets. The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is conducting this review of roads in the Suiattle River drainage to balance access needs with resource protection and budget. ”
11/4/2010 Flood-ravaged Sans Souci homes coming down This article was sent to me by a former resident of this town who stated flooding was serious there 60-70 years ago. There are some places that just should be abandoned. The NFIP like it promotes development in floodplains also enables some to stay in repetitive loss areas that end up costing taxpayers millions. The NFIP needs changing so that more of the below can happen in repetitive loss areas. No one should be forced from their homes if they want to stay but if they stay they do so at their own peril not at the expense of the taxpayer.
11/15/2010 NAHB: FEMA Enacts Rules for Building in Floodplains to Comply With Endangered Species Act “As currently written, the Procedural Memorandum 64 is likely to impose a burden upon developers, builders and private landowners seeking an LOMC.”  LOMC being Letter Of Map Change.

See also: Procedure Memorandum 64 – Compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for Letters of Map Change
12/5/2010 The Olympian: State may halt fishing on Elwha “Ron Warren, fish manager for the department’s Region 6, said a moratorium would help protect fish runs during dam removal and maximize the number of fish available to spawn in the Elwha River watershed. “Once those dams are gone, we’ll have a tremendous opportunity to rebuild fish runs that have been blocked from the upper river for the past century,” Warren said in a news release. “A fishing moratorium would support that goal, but we want to talk to area residents before we formally propose a plan to the commission”.”
12/10/2010 The Oregonian: With a concrete wall, researchers improve migrating salmon survival rates at The Dalles Dam $51 million to redirect Columbia River salmon to help salmon pass a dam.
12/21/2010 Crosscut: Should the town of Hamilton stay in the Skagit floodway? “The town has flooded more than 17 times in the last century, and now, every three years or so, the river covers the entire town up to nine feet deep. Residents view the floods as part of their way of life. Even after the destruction wrought by Skagit waters in 1990, 1995, 1996, 2003, and 2007, many townspeople see no need for change. This is partly because Hamilton residents have been supported in rebuilding every time with FEMA money. FEMA estimates it has spent over $10 million in the last 20 years on Hamilton.”
See also: Video - Hamilton - Town at the Tipping Point
12/30/2010 Eugene Weekly Analysis: Growth and Prosperity “The “conventional wisdom” that growth generates economic and employment benefits was not supported by the data. The study found that those metro areas that have fared the best had the lowest growth rates. Even metro areas with stable or declining populations tended to fare better than fast-growing areas in terms of basic measures of economic well-being.”
12/30/2010 Insurance Journal: How to Fix Nation's Flood Insurance Program “Flood is a unique risk. Perhaps most importantly, it is a risk that is enormously difficult to underwrite due to adverse selection. Simply put, only those people that are at risk for flooding will purchase flood insurance, making it virtually impossible to pool risk among a large enough population for a viable and affordable insurance product. In order to underwrite a risk like this, an insurer would need to charge very high premiums and maintain significant capital reserves in case of massive flooding, when all of their policyholders would be making claims. In actuality, the only people who would be able to afford coverage would likely be those that did not need it.”
1/13/2011 Associated Press: Report projects impact of big storm to California “Scientists dub it California's "other Big One," a series of storms capable of costing three times as much as a severe Southern California earthquake. The storms have happened before, lasting 45 days in the winter of 1861-62. They left nearly a third of taxable land under water and caused the state to go bankrupt. ... Scientists believe a series of atmospheric rivers were behind the storms of 1861-62, the largest and longest storms in California's recorded history. Geologic evidence of past floods indicate even bigger storms struck the state long before European settlers arrived.”
See also: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1312: Overview of the ARkStorm Scenario
1/27/2011 Shari Brewer Comment Letter on Suiattle Access and Travel Management Plan “Hydrology and Soils are discussed on pg. 35. The chocolate color of the Suiattle river occurs in the summer when the water flows on the roads is minimal to non existent. In the winter when the rain and rain on snow is significant on the roads the river is a nice green color. Go figure, the siltation is from the Glacier and not the roads.”
2/2011 Levee Safety Connections February 2011 Newsletter “This is the first edition of Levee Safety Connections, a quarterly newsletter with status updates on the recommendations for a proposed National Levee Safety Program, stakeholder feedback, and information about the state of levees in the nation. ... More in-depth information can be found on the NCLS website at”
2/10/2011 Skagit Valley Herald-created Google Map of Preliminary FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps for Skagit County “The Federal Emergency Management Agency released preliminary flood insurance rate maps on July 1, 2010 for communities along the Skagit River. The map panels originated with FEMA and are provided by the Skagit Valley Herald,”
3/1/2011 Demystifying National Flood Insurance Program Alignment with the Endangered Species Act “The Conference will provide Puget Sound's NFIP participating communities with clear information on how NFIP implementation can meet Endangered Species Act obligations. NMFS and FEMA, together with the Puget Sound Partnership, will bring their various perspectives and provide a consistent voice on important methods and practices that can bring local land use implementation into alignment with both NFIP and ESA requirements.”
3/6/2011 Inforum Column by Tammy Swift: Flood Fight Has Its Own Language A column taking a satirical look at flood fights in general.
3/7/2011 FEMA Blog: The Disaster Declaration Process, Spring Flood Edition “The bottom line is that – as with all disasters – FEMA is not the team, FEMA is only part of the team.”
3/10/2011 Skagit Valley Herald Letter to the Editor: Responsible Flood Control “What I learned in all of the floods I observed is that there is no substitute for personal responsibility to not build in the flood plain in a manner that invites damage. Rather than arguing about what constitutes a “100- year” flood, minimum elevation levels for new construction should be much higher than they now are and probably even higher than so-called new FEMA flood maps might try to require.”
3/11/2011 Politico: Continental congress assembles U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, March 11, 1779 A history of the Army Corps of Engineers.
3/11/2011 The American Surveyor:
Vantage Point: Life Behind Levees: An Overview and Update by Wendy Lathrop, LS, CFM
A three-page article about FEMA's technical updates for levee safety.  “In many parts of the country, reliance on levees has been a way of life for centuries. Low-lying areas on the "dry" side of the levees sprouted agricultural fields, grew towns and cities, or even became industrial hubs. Only relatively recently has the protection of levee systems begun to come under scrutiny, questioning the adequacy of the walls to prevent waters from the "wet" side from overtopping or destroying the levees and inundating the "dry" side.”

The author's previous work served as the December 2008 Quote of the Month.
3/17/2011 GordenDerr Law Blog - Northwest Land Matters: FEMA Hits "Pause" on Updated Floodplain Maps “In February, 27 US Senators sent a letter to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate asking FEMA to revisit its “without levees” analysis policy as part of creating new floodplain maps in jurisdictions around the country. Under the “without levees” approach, FEMA assumes that any levee that does not meet FEMA’s levee accreditation standards (44 C.F.R. §65.10) (i.e., protection from a 100-year flood event) does not exist for purposes of preparing pending floodplain maps.”
3/28/2011 ThePineTree.Net: The FEMA Scheme FEMA seems to have acted like a taxpayer who, in filling out his tax forms, pushes the envelope of deductions as far as he believes he can get away with - that is without sending up a red flag triggering an audit.  In FEMA’s case, it hasn’t altogether worked. Some cities and counties across America are pushing back. But, if FEMA had applied its flood definition and used the same engineering that affected the Stantons’ property across the board, many more properties would be included - properties whose new flood status would be known to be ridiculously false to even the casual observer. Red flags would have popped up all over America. The cooperation FEMA needs from county planning departments would have been endangered. Even the more liberal Congress of pre-2010 elections might have been compelled to “audit” FEMA.  …  The engineering and assumptions made regarding the Stantons’ property are examples of the quality of information use by FEMA to encourage property owners to buy insurance; however, “encourage” isn’t exactly accurate either. …  Homes and businesses with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders in high-risk flood areas are required to have flood insurance. While flood insurance is not federally required if you live in a moderate-to-low risk flood area, it is still available and strongly recommended.”
4/1/2011 Flood insurance program likely to stay in debt, says FEMA head “In fact, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told lawmakers today, the troubled federal program will likely add to its massive debt to the U.S. Treasury Department once another major disaster hits. "Not only do I not see this debt being paid down, except over a very long time with no outstanding catastrophic flood events, I think the reality is we have a greater risk of that (debt) going up," Fugate said.”
4/29/2011 State of Missouri et al vs. US Army Corps of Engineers et al. “At the outset, this Court is doubtful that the waiver of sovereign immunity in § 1323(a) applies at all to the Corps of Engineers, regardless of the stated exception for maintaining navigation. If indeed plaintiffs are correct that § 1323(a) operates to waive sovereign immunity, then the Corps’ statutorily mandated efforts to build and maintain levees for flood control on the nation’s navigable waterways would be subject to the regulatory provisions of the clean water acts of each individual state. And if that is true, then § 1323(a) preempts and effectively eviscerates the core functions of the Corps under the federal Flood Control Act. ”
5/3/2011 Big Oak Farms Inc. et. al. vs. United States of America Class Action Complaint “This is a class action complaint brought against Defendants for, inter alia, inverse condemnation and wrongful taking of the Plaintiffs' property under the takings clause of the 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The taking here occurred when, at approximately 10 p.m. on May 2, 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers intentionally breached the Birds Point levee with a series of orchestrated explosions and inundated approximately 130,000 acres of Mississippi and New Madrid Counties, Missouri with flood waters from the Mississippi River.”
5/4/2011 Sacramento River's Renegade Flood Control System and its Unique Water Right Settlement Agreements The Sacramento River Water District explained.  Last two pages of the PDF are the illustrations.
5/5/2011 Southeast Missourian: Floodway long a source of legal contention “A prevailing argument is that the farmers in the floodway knew what they were getting into when they signed on the dotted line, that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers years ago purchased the right to breach the levee and flood those 130,000-plus acres should the need arise -- as it did when the river gauge at Cairo, Ill., reached 61.72 feet. The notion is that the landowners were paid -- some say handsomely -- either outright or received compensation for easements in the floodway.”
5/6/2011 Southeast Missourian: Corps shifts focus to East Prairie after final Birds Point breach A post-floodway breech update.  See also 5/5/2011: Southeast Missourian: Floodway long a source of legal contention
5/6/2011 After Birds Point: The Army Corps’ Missouri Floodway Boondoggle “The farmers who bought land in Missouri’s waterlogged bootheel knew what they were buying; periodic floods and occasional wipeouts were priced into their purchases. But after their lobbying efforts and lawsuits failed to persuade the Corps to sacrifice the people of Cairo, Ill., instead of their high-priced dirt, they are now preparing another lawsuit, insisting that the Corps has trampled their constitutional property rights. (Are loan deficiency payments in the Constitution?  How about federally subsidized crop insurance?  Just asking.) It’s a shame when anyone gets flooded, and I remember meeting some nice people in the bootheel when I visited 11 years ago. I also remember some of them saying that if they could just get decent flood control for the floodway, they could have a real development boom there. If that happened, of course, the Corps would never be able to sacrifice the floodway again.  Then the river would decide what would be sacrificed.”
5/13/2011 People in bayou communities prepare for flooding from swollen river The flooding risk is something others there acknowledge and are willing to deal with, should the Morganza flood for the first time in nearly 40 years. "It's a flood risk. We've got the bayous that come up and down," Burke said. "But it's been since '73, since they opened up the Morganza. We just do what we got to do." "We understand to save the cities and the populated areas and industries, that's what the spillways were built for," Thibodaux said. "So, we chose to live in these areas and it's something we put up with."
5/13/2011 'What gives them the right to flood us?' asks Gibson woman Cindy Prejent, a Gibson resident, worries that her house will flood from water that is set to be let loose through the Morganza spillway.  ...  Prejent is one of 25,000 Louisianans whose home could be flooded once the Morganza is opened – a move to relieve pressure on the swollen Mississippi River to protect major cities in the state like New Orleans and Baton Rouge.  “What gives them the right to flood us?” said Prejent. “I understand it, but there are so many communities and so many farmers and so many businesses.”
5/15/2011 On Need for More Floodways in the Sacramento Basin
“Our Bypasses allow no buildings. No obstacle over three feet may be built. Unfortunately, the “floodways” on the Mississippi, which began after the 1927 Mississippi flood, appear to have no such restriction.”
5/16/2011 Dutch Room for the River Programme “The goal of the Dutch Room for the River Programme is to give the river more room to be able to manage higher water levels. At more than 30 locations, measures will be taken that give the river space to flood safely. Moreover, the measures will be designed in such a way that they improve the quality of the immediate surroundings. The Room for the River programme will be completed by 2015.”
See also: Factsheet Room for the River, Explanatory Memorandum Room for the River
5/20/2011 Homeland Security Newswire: Floods along the Mississippi raise questions about levee system According to Nicholas Pinter, a geology professor at Southern Illinois University, the current levee system, built and maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, has made some channels of the Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri Rivers as narrow as one third of their original width. “The Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio Rivers are largely man-made constructs,” Pinter said. The narrower river channels means that water will flow faster and higher when it hits farmlands, communities, or spillways designed to handle the river’s overflow. In addition, because the water flows faster it will cause more damage to land and structures.
6/2011 GAO Highlights: FEMA - Action Needed to Improve Administration of the National Flood Insurance Program “FEMA faces significant management challenges in areas that affect NFIP, including strategic and human capital planning; collaboration among offices; and records, financial, and acquisition management. For example, because FEMA has not developed goals, objectives, or performance measures for NFIP, it needs a strategic focus for ensuring program effectiveness. FEMA also faces human capital challenges, including high turnover and weaknesses in overseeing its many contractors. Further, FEMA needs a plan that would ensure consistent day-to-day operations when it deploys staff to federal disasters. FEMA has also faced challenges in collaboration between program and support offices. Finally, FEMA lacks a comprehensive set of processes and systems to guide its operations, in particular a records management policy and an electronic document management system.”
6/2011 GAO Full Report to Congressional Committees: FEMA - Action Needed to Improve Administration of the National Flood Insurance Program “As a result of the program’s importance, level of indebtedness, and potential for future losses, we placed NFIP on our high-risk list in March 2006. In earlier reports, we identified a number of operational challenges that hindered FEMA’s ability to effectively administer NFIP and contributed to NFIP’s placement on the list. For example, we found internal control weaknesses in FEMA’s oversight of the write-your-own (WYO) insurers that are key to NFIP operations and that have received payments representing one-third to two-thirds of the premiums collected. We also found problems with the oversight of contractors responsible for performing key NFIP functions such as collecting NFIP data and marketing the program. Because of the risks and challenges facing NFIP and the financial and operational weaknesses we had identified, we undertook a review to look for potential underlying management weaknesses that, if addressed, might improve the operation and functioning of the program.”
6/2011 National Committee on Levee Safety: Levee Safety Connections Volume 1, No. 2 “While it will take weeks for floodwaters to recede, and months beyond that to understand the damage of these historic floods, one thing is clear: without reliable levee systems and a public informed of their risks and empowered to protect themselves and their property, damages would have been much greater.”
6/9/2011 Property Casualty 360° - A National Underwriter Website: Senator: ‘Every Aspect’ Of NFIP Needs Revision “The comments by Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., ranking minority member of the panel, raised fears within the industry that Congress may not be able to complete work on a long-term reauthorization of the program before the current authorization expires Sept. 30. “Every aspect of the program must undergo significant revision for it to survive and continue on a sustainable path,” says Shelby during a June 9 hearing on the NFIP.”
6/28/2011 US Army Corps of Engineers Trinity River Project, Dallas TX- In-Progress Review Read-Ahead “Corps re-writing the EA [Environmental Assessment] to ensure that no language is in the document that validates design or efficacy of modification/measure being proposed.  Additionally purpose and need of EA is so that the city might maintain eligibility in the National Flood Insurance Program, not provide flood risk benefits.
7/13/2011 Property Casualty 360° - A National Underwriter Website:  Insurance Industry Urges Senate to Follow House on NFIP Reauthorization “Leigh Ann Pusey, president and chief executive officer of the American Insurance Association (AIA), says, “The certainty and stability of this program is an essential component of protecting the homes and businesses that may incur losses as a result of flooding.”
7/18/2011 Property Casualty 360° - A National Underwriter Website:  House Passes NFIP Bill With Potentially Historic Shift Toward Privatization “The House on July 12 passed legislation that would reauthorize the NFIP until Sept. 30, 2016. But whether Congress can act on a long-term reauthorization before the current program’s extension expires Sept. 30 remains unclear. The final House bill contains one potential historic shift in the program: some movement toward privatization, at least through reinsurance. ... The House also added a provision requiring the NFIP to create a reserve fund to handle catastrophic losses.”
8/20/2011 Rapid City Journal: Forum: Flood compensation should be made by Corps Federal aid could be withheld, even if the flood was at least partially the fault of FEMA & Corps' calculations...
8/22/2011 U.S. Army Corps Flood Failures on Mississippi Demand New Vision The record-breaking spring floods “tested the limits of the system,” said Paul Harrison, senior director for Mississippi River and East Coast at the Environmental Defense Fund. He said the Army Corps, which has managed the river’s flow since 1824, “wants to continue to invest in the old system rather than look at these events as an opportunity to create a 21st-century system.”
8/22/2011 releases previously unseen disturbing footage “While the New Orleans region was still drying out after the federal levees failed in 2005, the Corps of Engineers awarded an elite engineering group a large grant to conduct what was basically a PR show to repair the Corps’ damaged reputation.

“The grant steered money to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) to present dozens of powerpoints nationwide apparently designed to mislead the American public on what caused the flooding during Katrina.”
9/2011 National Committee on Levee Safety Levee Safety Connections September 2011 Newsletter “There is always some risk of flooding for those living or working behind a levee. Levees are designed to reduce the risks of flooding, but as we have seen this summer, larger flood events can cause them to be overtopped or fail. Levees also decay and deteriorate over time. When levees do fail, they can fail catastrophically - the cumulative damage to the area behind the levee may be more significant than if the levee wasn't present. If you live or work behind a levee, you should (1) be aware of your risk; (2) have a plan in case of flooding; and (3) stay informed with up-to-date information from local authorities and be ready to act.”
11/15/2011 Property Casualty 360° - Another CR with Short-Term NFIP Extension on Horizon “The House and Senate are expected to pass another continuing resolution by Friday that will keep both the federal government and the NFIP running until Dec. 16, 2011, according to officials of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers Association of America. That action will avoid any federal government or NFIP interruptions, says Charles Symington, IIABA senior vice president of government affairs According to State Farm, which is exiting the Write-Your-Program because of the uncertainty in the NFIP, this will be the 12th last-minute reauthorization of the NFIP since 2002. On four occasions, the program was allowed to lapse for extended periods of time, according to State Farm officials ”
12/8/2011 Property Casualty 360° - Senate Passes Another Short-Term NFIP Extension as Deadline Nears “The Senate last night unanimously passed legislation extending the National Flood Insurance Program until May 31, 2012. ... “Our priority is preventing another NFIP lapse,” says Tom Litjen vice president of federal government relations for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. “More than 5.6 million home and business owners across the country rely on flood insurance, in every state. This is not just a coastal concern.” Tom Santos, vice president for federal affairs at the American Insurance Association, says, “The six month extension...should allow Congress enough time to consider and pass a long-term extension with meaningful reforms that aim to strengthen the program. Necessary reforms include movement toward risk-based premiums and reduced price subsidies.”
12/9/2011 Property Casualty 360° - Long-Term NFIP Extension Finds Its Way Into Budget/Tax Cut Bill “Legislation that packages the House version of a five-year National Flood Insurance Program extension into a deal that would extend expiring tax cuts is headed for House floor action and likely approval. The deal would essentially include an NFIP extension in House Republicans’ demands for budget cuts in exchange for their support on extending expiring tax cuts.  ... However, one industry lobbyist questions the math involved in saying passing the NFIP reauthorization would save $4.5 billion over 10 years when the program currently owes the Treasury almost $18 billion due to losses created by paying claims from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.”
12/21/2011 The Seattle Times: Battle escalates over building in flood plains “More than a decade after government biologists first warned the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that allowing development in flood plains is helping kill salmon and orcas, environmental groups on Wednesday turned to their most potent — and controversial — weapon: They asked a federal judge in Seattle for an emergency injunction that would effectively halt a sizable chunk of the building in flood-prone areas until FEMA finds a way to make sure it won't harm endangered fish or whales.
“...While it's impossible to know how much construction might be curtailed, the National Wildlife Federation says its review of FEMA data suggests 700 to 800 new structures have been built in flood plains in the three years since the biologists said the practice must change. "Salmon are going over the edge, and we've waited years for it to change and it hasn't," said Jan Hasselman, an attorney with the environmental legal firm Earthjustice, which filed the motion in federal court. "As far as we can tell, not one project has been prevented, delayed, reconfigured or reconsidered" since 2008.
1/2012 Biological and Physical Effects of “Fish-Friendly” Tide Gates Final Report for the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, January 2012 Biological effects. Increased tidal connectivity appeared to improve cumulative density of juvenile Chinook salmon rearing above tide gates at one of two BACI sites. At Fisher Slough, the replacement of manually and passively operating side-hinged gates with side hinged SRT gates was followed by a reduction in the cumulative density ratio by over 80% (Fig. 11A). This loss in cumulative density resulted in the tide gate cumulative density ratio decreasing from nearly 50% to 10% of Fisher’s reference site before and after SRT installation, respectively.”
3/8/2012 GAO Report to the Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of Representatives: Army Corps of Engineers - Peer Review Process for Civil Works Project Studies Can Be Improved Section 2034 established a trial to look at the cost and impact of conducting peer review for controversial and costly projects over a 7-year period. After the trial period, based on information provided by the Corps, Congress could reconsider whether to retain or revise section 2034 or allow it to lapse. Because the Corps generally does not specify the authority under which peer review was conducted, however, it has not provided Congress with the information needed to evaluate the merits of the section 2034 requirements. In addition, the Corps’ implementation of peer review has not focused on the larger, more complex, and controversial projects that were contemplated when section 2034 was enacted and as recommended by NAS a decade ago. As a result, project studies are being selected to undergo peer review that may not be warranted and may thereby be increasing project costs and schedules needlessly. Further, essential to the integrity of the peer review process is the assurance that the Corps has effective processes not only to ensure overall contractor independence and freedom from conflicts of interest but also to ensure project-level independence and freedom from conflicts of interest. The Corps’ current process, however, has a number of weaknesses with respect to ensuring no conflicts of interest exist at the project level. Finally, with peer review generally occurring late in the Corps’ project study process, peer review serves more to strengthen the Corps’ presentation of its decisions than to influence its decision making.
3/10/2012 American Surveyor: Helping Floodville “If classified as a “severe repetitive loss property”, NFIP coverage can be denied. Two conditions may throw the premises into this undesirable category: (1) there have been four or more claims for flood damages, and each claim payment has exceeded $5000; or (2) at least two claim payments have been made and the cumulative payments exceed the value of the property. In such instances, owners may choose to enroll in buyout programs, a voluntary process of selling their properties to recoup whatever amount they can from a now (at least through the NFIP) uninsurable property. Pre-disaster fair market value must be assessed and Elevation Certificates completed so that the purchasing entity can conduct benefit cost analyses to prioritize where the limited buyout funding resources will go.”
3/22/2012 Guest commentary: Lessons from the 2011 flood “Here in Missouri we want it all from our namesake river. We want enough water in any season to float the very meager navigation traffic on the river; we want narrow river corridors and high levees so we can build and plant in the floodplain; and we want few restrictions that would keep farm runoff from polluting the river and contributing to the "dead zone" in the gulf. The record high runoff into the Missouri in 2011 is forcing us to face the fact that we can't have it all. The huge mainstream dams in the upper river didn't prevent flooding, but only reduced its severity. The flood of 1993 already demonstrated that we can have flooding on the lower river based primarily on regional rainfall. Normally two-thirds of the river's total flow comes from tributaries entering below the dams.”
5/1/2012 Property Casualty 360° - A National Underwriter Website:  'Flood the Hill' Effort Sees Insurer Groups, Others Team Up for NFIP Extension “The insurance industry and allied trade groups are launching a full-court press to ensure Senate action on flood legislation before the current authorization expires May 31. ... The campaign is set to launch the week of May 7—the first in a three-week stretch during with the Senate can act before the NFIP expires on May 31.  The coalition behind the campaign includes groups from across the spectrum of NFIP-reform supporters, including the National Association of Realtors, National Wildlife Federation, Mortgage Bankers, Nature Conservancy, Consumer Bankers Association and American Land Title Association.”
5/18/2012 Heritage Foundation Issue Brief: Congress Should Act on FEMA’s Refusal to Reform No More FEMA Bailouts
“Congress can no longer simply give FEMA another round of taxpayer dollars to maintain the status quo. After last year’s record-breaking year of FEMA declarations, Americans can no longer afford FEMA’s desire to operate as a bailout bank. The current approach leaves state and local governments less prepared and FEMA undoubtedly ill-equipped for the next truly catastrophic disaster.”
6/1/2012 Property Casualty 360° - A National Underwriter Website:  Pres. Obama Signs 60-Day NFIP Bill; Industry Pivots to Long-Term Efforts “Ben McKay, senior vice president of federal government relations for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, says that although PCI is pleased that the 60-day extension avoided a lapse, “this only delays the fundamental debate over the future of the flood-insurance program. We remain hopeful that the Senate will schedule floor time for its long-term NFIP reauthorization and reform bill in June.”
6/29/2012 Property Casualty 360° - After Years of Delays, Congress Passes Long-Term NFIP Extension “Congress today finally passed and sent to the President legislation providing long-term certainty for the National Flood Insurance Program. The House voted just before 2 p.m., 373-52, to pass the legislation, and the Senate voted a few minutes later, 74-19, to send the legislation to President Obama. ... Key highlights of the legislation include allowing FEMA to raise rates a maximum of 20 percent annually, as compared to 10 percent annually under the current program. It also mandates that rates for second homes, properties with repetitive flood claims and commercial properties will go up 20 percent over the next five years. That will be effective July 1. The bill reiterates FEMA’s authority to buy private reinsurance to back the program, which is aimed at reducing FEMA’s reliance on Treasury loans to fund the program. The reforms are projected to generate an additional $2.7 billion in new revenues over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The bill also authorizes FEMA and the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on various options, methods, and strategies for privatizing the NFIP. Furthermore, it requires lenders to accept non-NFIP backed flood-insurance coverage provided by a private entity if that coverage meets all the same requirements as NFIP-backed flood insurance.”
8/11/2012 The New York Times Sunday Review: Hundred-Year Forecast: Drought Indeed, assuming business as usual, each of the next 80 years in the American West is expected to see less rainfall than the average of the five years of the drought that hit the region from 2000 to 2004. That extreme drought (which we have analyzed in a new study in the journal Nature-Geoscience) had profound consequences for carbon sequestration, agricultural productivity and water resources: plants, for example, took in only half the carbon dioxide they do normally, thanks to a drought-induced drop in photosynthesis.
10/2012 Missouri River Flood 2011 Assessment Report - Volume I: Summary & Volume II: Technical Report Absolute flood protection for the Missouri River Basin is not possible, so the basin needs to plan and prepare for future flooding events. Flood control storage in the reservoir system is just one piece of the solution. Increasing the carrying capacity of the floodway and reducing encroachment in the floodplain are two of many ways to reduce flood risk. Land-use management and regulation of development within designated floodplain areas (responsibilities of state and local governments) are also considerations. A Missouri River Watershed Flood Risk Reduction study could be initiated to consider opportunities for additional flood water storage and improved floodway conveyance in the context of all other uses of the river system. The benefit of approaching flood risk reduction in a more holistic manner is that it provides flexibility to respond to a wide range of flooding situations and the resiliency to recover quickly following an event.
11/2012 Can There Be A Silver Lining In Sandy?
Proudly reprinted with the permission of Bill Becker
3 part series of articles by the Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project.  “Broadly speaking, federal policies encourage people to build and rebuild in disaster-prone areas. No one with a heart would suggest that government should not help disaster victims; it’s quite another thing, however, to help people become victims.

We rule today, simply and only, that government induced flooding temporary in duration gains no auto-matic exemption from Takings Clause inspection. When regulation or temporary physical invasion by government interferes with private property, our decisions recognize, time is indeed a factor in determining the existence vel non of a compensable taking. See Loretto, 458 U. S., at 435, n. 12 (temporary physical invasions should be as-sessed by case-specific factual inquiry); Tahoe-Sierra, 535

2/5/2013 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on National Flood Insurance Plan (NFIP) Governor Christie calls out the NFIP for failing to pay claims from Hurricane Sandy in a timely manner: “When you look at this flood insurance program, it's done an awful job.  85% of homeowner claims have been resolved, only 30% of flood insurance claims have been resolved.  That's just unacceptable.  Unacceptable for people who paid these premiums and I'm not going to sit around and take it quietly any longer. We've tried to work behind the scenes to urge them to do it, we've gotten all kinds of assurances that haven't been met. So now we're going to be publicly calling on them and calling on our congressional delegation to get all over the National Flood Insurance Program.”
2/7/2013 Jindal aide: Army Corps of Engineers is a 'complete disaster' Jo-Ellen Darcy was raised in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. She attended Boston College, receiving a B.S. in Philosophy and Sociology in 1973.(Wikipedia) How does this qualify her to lead an engineering organization ? This type of staffing has spread throughout the management of the Corps and this type of manager love to study, never build.
2/13/2013 Christie, Schumer Blast NFIP and WYO Insurer Delays in Handling Sandy Claims “The Federal Emergency Management Agency is coming under heavy fire for its handling of Superstorm Sandy flood claims in New York and New Jersey. The criticisms extended to Write-Your-Own companies that in many cases process flood claims for FEMA. The objections—outlined in a letter from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to his congressional delegation and in a statement released by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.—contend that, in many cases, federal-disaster-relief dollars are being held up due to a delay in processing flood claims.”
3/2013 National Wildlife Federation: Changing Course: Why Protecting Floodplains is Good for People and Wildlife "“The value of floodplains is well documented. Floodplains reduce flood damage; Floodplains improve water quality: Floodplains provide essential habitat. . . . The cumulative effects of filling in floodplains can be surprising. Losing just one percent of a basins floodplains and wetlands can increase peak flows by almost 8 percent. Filling in floodplains displaces water storage capacity, compounding flood risk and destroying habitat."

This is one of the best floodplain management documents ever prepared.  A must read for everyone.
3/27/2013 National Wildlife Federation Video: Help NWF Protect Floodplains for People and Wildlife An almost 5 minute video about development in Western Washington State floodplains.  Burlington's floodplain development is a major subject of the movie.
3/29/2013 US Federal Court Ruling on WSDOT Culverts “At the time of trial in 2009, WDFW had identified 807 WSDOT barrier culverts which blocked more than 200 meters of salmon habitat upstream of the culvert.  ... Reductions in salmon harvests by tribal and non-tribal fishers, leaving more adult fish to spawn, will not result in substantial increases in salmon production unless accompanied by gains in habitat, particularly spawning ground. A fish passage barrier culvert is a culvert that impedes the passage of any life stage of any species of anadromous fish at any flow level which would allow the passage of fish, but for the culvert. ... Despite past State action, a great many barrier culverts still exist, large stretches of potential salmon habitat remain empty of fish, and harvests are still diminished. Remedies at law are inadequate as monetary damages will not adequately compensate the Tribes and their individual members for these harms. Salmon harvests are important to Tribal members not only economically but in their traditions, culture, and religion; interests for which there is no adequate monetary relief.”
9/10/2013 Skagit Valley Herald: Tethys says it will not build in Anacortes “Tethys Enterprises has decided to withdraw plans to build a massive bottling plant here, according to a letter from Tethys to the mayor.”
10/8/2015 Property Casualty 360° - Why don’t property owners have flood insurance? “Studies indicate that one out of five people believe flood is covered under their homeowner’s policy. This suggests the majority of property owners understand they can only receive flood insurance by purchasing it separately. []
“After Superstorm Sandy, interviews with some homeowners revealed they simply didn’t purchase flood insurance because it lacked the two coverages they felt were necessary: Basement coverage and additional living expense. ”