Flood plains will grow by 45%That was one of the findings by the Interagency Levee Policy Review Committee, which studied the challenges of the nation's levee system following Hurricane Katrina. Galloway chaired the panel.
"The committee recognizes that dealing with climate change, sea-level rise, linked levees, and future development requires the commitment of significant resources and represents a conceptual shift from basing criteria on present conditions to basing criteria on possible, but not fully quantifiable, future conditions," the panel said in its 117-page report. "Nevertheless, the committee believes that this step must be taken."
The agency is not considering the impacts of climate change within its proposed levee plan. But FEMA is studying how flood insurance could be affected by rising temperatures. The study's preliminary findings anticipate that flood plains nationwide will grow by about 45 percent, a huge rise that is expected to increase the program's exposure to risk.
Galloway, for his part, is chairing a new committee to assess FEMA's policy change, so he declined to take a position on the replacement of the "without levee" provision.
But he indicated that his past research, including the findings in a landmark report after the 1993 floods recommending mandatory insurance and limited development behind levees, remains a good way to reduce risk.
"Forget all this business about 'Is it a certified levee or not?'" he said. "No matter how tall your levee is, there's always the possibility that your levee could overtop."
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500