Risk Reduction

"Now, What?”

Placing sandbags at a gate closure.When results of a levee inspection or risk assessment are released, levee sponsors, local leaders, and the public will all have one key question: “Now, what?”  A key priority is to ensure that people living or working in leveed areas get accurate and timely information, so they can take action.

USACE can advise decision-makers, but many challenges will be solved by the local community. The levee sponsor is responsible for operation, maintenance, repair, replacement, and rehabilitation of the levee system, and has the lead role in planning the way forward. USACE 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.

Overall, USACE 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.

Interim Risk Reduction
Interim Risk Reduction Measures (IRRMs) are effective, interim actions taken to reduce flood  risks while longer term solutions are planned and implemented.  IRRMs are a critical part of responsible, adaptive flood risk management.  Even levee systems that may not pose high risks can benefit from IRRMs.

USACE will develop and implement Interim Risk Reduction Measures Plans for levees USACE operates and maintains.  For other levees, USACE can assist in an advisory role.

Long Term Risk Reduction
Levee safety is just one component of a comprehensive flood risk management approach. Beyond repair, rehabilitation or replacement of levees, local leaders will want to consider such factors as land use planning, development decisions, zoning, building codes, emergency management and evacuation plans, flood proofing of structures, and ring levee construction.

Addressing System-wide Deficiencies
USACE established the System-wide Improvement Framework process to provide eligible levee sponsors an extended period of time to address deficiencies such as erosion, seepage, or vegetation which might require a multi-year effort and coordination among multiple entities. The process supports prioritizing deficiencies so that the highest risk issues are addressed first. This joint approach to developing solutions ensures that local and regional resources come together to address site-specific conditions.

In addition, USACE can support levee sponsors with long-term risk reduction solutions through existing processes, including Section 408, Section 205, and Section 216 of its authorizing legislation.

What You Can Do

If you live or work in a community with levees, there’s a role for you.  First, know your risk.  No matter how strong or well maintained a levee is, there is always risk.  Second, take action to reduce your risk.  Have an evacuation plan.  Pay attention to flood watches and warnings. Purchase flood insurance, whether it is required or not.  And support your community’s efforts to reduce the risks.


Interim Risk Reduction Measures (IRRMs) for Levee Safety  A summary of IRRMs.

Emergency Preparedness Guidelines for Levees  A reference guide prepared by the Levee Sub-Sector Coordinating Council and Levee Sub-Sector Government Coordinating Council of the Department of Homeland Security to assist levee sponsors and communities in preparing for, and responding to, potential natural and manmade incidents at levees.

So You Live Behind a Levee  A brochure developed collaboratively by the American Society of Civil Engineers containing basic information about levees and how to prepare for flood events.

Levee Outreach Toolkit  Information and factsheets to aid in community outreach when changes in levee status affect flood insurance costs.

FloodSmart  The official site of the National Flood Insurance Program.


FEMA Guidance Documents and Other Published Resources

National Nonstructural Flood Proofing Committee  A committee formed by USACE to serve as a resource and promote nonstructural measures to flood risk reduction.

System-Wide Improvement Frameworks  USACE process for providing levee sponsors an opportunity to address risk associated with levee systems in a collaborative risk-based procedure.

USACE Civil Works Pocket Reference  A quick reference guide that describes current USACE authorities.