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  • Marisa Escudero – Water Protection Network
    More Federal Flood Protection Standards One Year Later Marisa Escudero February 25 2016 No Comments Originally Published by Natural Resources Defense Council February 16 2016 By Rob Moore One year ago President Obama issued a directive to all federal agencies to begin preparing for sea level rise and the increasing risk of flooding caused by climate change The directive established new federal flood protection standards that will go a long way towards making the nation more resilient One ye Read More The WCI Protests Too Much Methinks Marisa Escudero February 25 2016 No Comments Originally Published by Missouri Coalition for the Environment February 1 2016 By Brad Walker Rivers Director In late December 2015 the St Louis Post Dispatch published an op ed by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment MCE and Sierra Club regarding the America s Watershed Initiative s AWI Mississippi River Basin Rep Read More Support Agency Implementation of Executive Order 13690 and the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard Marisa Escudero February 25 2016 No Comments Special Thanks to Joel Scata with Natural Resources Defense Council for this great summary on how YOU can continue to help implement the Federal Flood Risk Management Standards In January 2015 President Obama issued Executive Order 13690 EO 13690 updating federal policy concerning floodplain development and establishing the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard standard EO 13690 reemphas Read More Federal Flood Risk Management Standards Updated Just in Time for Record breaking Winter Floods Marisa Escudero January 28 2016 1 Comment Winter 2016 has been a wet one for many of our WPNetwork Members Major flooding on the Mississippi River and its tributaries prompted flood warnings for parts of Alabama Arkansas the Carolinas Illinois Kentucky Louisiana Mississippi Missouri Oklahoma Tennessee and Texas At least 22 deaths over several days in Missouri and

    Original URL path: http://www.waterprotectionnetwork.org/author/escuderom/ (2016-04-30)
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  • How Kayaking Saved the Los Angeles River – Water Protection Network
    Act two years later Photo Credit saveourcommunity un WPNetwork members will recognize a familiar name in the article our very own Heather Wylie a long time supporter of the WPNetwork who has been actively fighting the Corps since 2008 Here is just a snippet of Heather s story to give our readers a taste In 2008 Heather Wylie was a young idealistic biologist craving a chance to make a real impact But instead of changing the world she sat mired inside a governmental agency she claims was neglecting public interest A fiery sharp tongued contrarian Wylie offers bold proclamations and researched facts in equal doses when she speaks without ever seeming to pause for air In interviews she avoids small talk and propels into meaty conversation unprompted often surging forward for 10 minutes without even a question lobbed her way Wylie embodies her role of whistleblower and never hesitates to defend the L A River when the opportunity arrives I didn t care if I lost my job Wylie said I just wanted to stay there long enough to get the things I wanted Army Corps Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project Clean Water Act Clean Water Rule climate climate change communities Corps ecosystem services flood risk management habitat protection Kayaking LA River Los Angeles River River Recreation USACE By Marisa Escudero Related Posts Top 5 Reasons Nature Based Solutions Help Protect Wildlife and You November 13 2015 Federal Flood Risk Management Standards Updated Just in Time for Record breaking Winter Floods January 28 2016 Support Agency Implementation of Executive Order 13690 and the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard February 25 2016 The WCI Protests Too Much Methinks February 25 2016 Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published Required fields are marked Name Email Website Comment

    Original URL path: http://www.waterprotectionnetwork.org/2016/03/how-kayaking-saved-the-los-angeles-river/ (2016-04-30)
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  • Déjà Crue, all over again – Water Protection Network
    the political will required to make the corrections has always been the major obstacle The need for a comprehensive self evaluation regarding how we live in this world has been voiced in the past and for the most part summarily ignored As is the case with many of our current problems the fault is laid squarely at our own feet as a nation our over reliance upon technology to solve all problems our ignoring of how the natural world works and the value that it provides us if we let it And let s not forget the issue of greed and self interest that is rampant today To solve our flood problems we have historically relied primarily upon structural means of flood control structures including dams levees and floodwalls ignoring that these methods can have as many if not more disadvantages as they have benefits Often those benefits and disadvantages damages are also not equally shared between people or communities A more appropriate and well documented approach is the use of non structural measures such as restricting and relocating development in flood prone areas removing lower or moving back levees and flood proofing existing structures should be formally adopted by municipalities and counties Of all ecosystems the river is the most communal but we have done all that we can to destroy that amazing trait by turning our river systems into confined drainage ditches dump sites barge canals and malls It is no wonder that they no longer function properly So how do we fix them The answers are there for us to read and follow We just have to decide to act as a community and not as a group of individuals protecting our own piece of the world Here is a short list of major actions decisions we hope to start on in Missouri We need the issue of the affect of river management structures on flood stages to be settled so that we can move forward with whatever adjustments that need to be made The State of Missouri needs to step up and join the other Upper Mississippi River states by writing a state level floodplain development law that stops destructive local development within our rivers floodplain Additional flood storage within our rivers must be created This will involve reconnecting floodplains in various areas through the removal moving back and or lowering of levees The most strategic areas along our rivers which will provide the most public benefit for the cost need to be determined and those areas targeted Articles addressing these topics and others along with some interesting tools will be posted on the MCE site over the next year This is a long term process that will require focus and dedication We are all in this together and not acting will just compound future costs And visit our River Roils Blog at http moenvironment org environment blog category brad walker climate climate change coastal erosion coastal restoration ecosystem services flood risk management flooding floodplains globalwarming

    Original URL path: http://www.waterprotectionnetwork.org/2016/03/deja-crue-all-over-again/ (2016-04-30)
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  • Federal Flood Protection Standards One Year Later – Water Protection Network
    is worth a pound of cure Who could argue with that It turns out Congress could Members of Congress introduced several riders and appropriations bills that would have prohibited the new flood protection standards from going into effect Ultimately after months of efforts by the administration and a diverse coalition of groups including NRDC the Association of State Floodplain Managers the R Street Institute and others Congress decided to not intervene Now that agencies can focus on implementing the standards without fear of Congressional interference what should they be doing Agencies need to ensure that their funding decisions support the construction of climate smart public facilities and infrastructure that meet one of the criteria below Climate Informed Science Approach Use the best available climate science data e g sea level rise projections to determine future flood risks then move or elevate structures so they re protected from future levels of flooding This approach is particularly important in coastal areas where sea level rise is an issue and for projects that have long lifetimes For instance a new sewage treatment plant may be used for decades so it s essential to consider how high sea levels might be decades from now 100 year Flood Margin of Safety Move or elevate structures so they re protected two feet above the level of the 100 year flood a flood that has a 1 percent chance of occurring each year or three feet above the 100 year flood elevation for critical facilities like fire stations or hospitals This approach might be best for facilities with shorter design lifetimes and located near river floodplains 500 year Flood Approach Move or elevate structures so they re protected to the elevation of a 500 year flood a flood that has a 0 2 percent chance of occurring each year In some areas the height of 500 year flood may be the best way to go especially for projects that have longer design lives near river floodplains or in areas where there is more uncertainty about future climate impacts For some agencies the flood protection standards challenge the conventional way of doing things For instance the U S Environmental Protection Agency USEPA gives money to states to fund the construction of municipal water and sewer treatment plants These plants are often sited in floodplains because it s easier for them to be in close proximity to water But that proximity to water is part of the reason why FEMA has spent 7 4 billion to repair water sewer and public utilities since 1998 We would be better served to spend a little more now and avoid costly damages later Overall FEMA has spent 48 6 billion since 1998 to help state and local governments flood and hurricane recovery efforts The bulk of this money has been spent on repairing and rebuilding bridges treatment plants roads and other pieces of public infrastructure and buildings just a portion of the overall bill we pay for not taking flood risks into

    Original URL path: http://www.waterprotectionnetwork.org/2016/02/federal-flood-protection-standards-one-year-later/ (2016-04-30)
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  • The WCI Protests Too Much…Methinks – Water Protection Network
    into perspective we need to go back to February 2010 when the Nicollet Island Coalition released a major report titled Big Price Little Benefit at a small press conference in St Louis that strongly attacked what was likely the most important navigation project on the Upper Mississippi River to WCI and for full disclosure I authored that report WCI did not write a response to the report then and never has to our knowledge So why attack this particular 700 word op ed about a report card We have our suspicions but first we will address the specifics of the WCI response The river segments mentioned above are also the primary site of the IWS portion of the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program or NESP which WCI seemed to mention with zeal as if we were withholding essential information Perhaps they forgot that we had previously analyzed NESP in the Big Price Little Benefit report So let s discuss NESP a topic we actually have plenty to talk about WCI seems to believe that the combining of two distinctly different activities navigation projects that are primarily responsible for the ecological damage to the river with ecosystem restoration projects that are pursued to address the ecological damage of navigation projects would somehow solve all of our river related problems If both programs are pursued different groups within the Corps will be responsible for constructing and managing each and they are more than capable of coordinating their work The irony is in the combining of these two conflicting programs since there is no functional reason to combine them To add insult to injury the barge industry has no obligation to contribute any funding for the ecosystem restoration projects that s all on the back of the taxpayers who are however obligated to pay 50 of the new navigation projects within NESP NESP as a coupled program is actually a Trojan Horse in that it looks pretty good on the outside but one must look deeper than its skin to see that it really is intended to benefit industry and the industrial agriculture system It provides the appearance of cooperation but in reality is being used to manipulate support for the construction of large scale navigation projects new locks that are not economically justified You don t have to take our word for that the Corps own 2007 Economic Re evaluation report and there is much history involved with getting to the point of the Corps having to write a re evaluation of NESP clearly shows that the public will receive no economic benefit from new locks In fact the Corps report indicates the public will lose money on their investment Below is the Corps graphic Range of Possible Traffic Forecasts from the final version of their re evaluation report that show the Benefit Cost BC ratios for the scenarios used to analyze NESP economic viability A BC below 1 0 means the benefit is less than its cost or a loss to those who are paying Traffic volumes have been somewhere between the Low Traffic Scenario and Flat and Falling Traffic represented by the 0 2 BC and 0 4 BC below for the last couple of decades never coming close to the forecasts used to justify the Melvin Price Locks Dam at Alton Illinois If the locks proposed in NESP are built the taxpayers will lose somewhere between 60 cents 1 0 BC 0 4 BC 60 cents and 80 cents for every dollar invested The High Traffic Scenario HTS in the graphic represents a very optimistic forecast of barge traffic similar to those used to justify Melvin Price Locks Dam The high level of probable financial loss should be enough for the taxpayers to scream NO to building these proposed locks but there are other concerns including the additional environmental damage that will result from their construction We are also concerned that the funding for the ecosystem restoration projects will never materialize in any meaningful amount Congress has very rarely fully funded the current small scale restoration program on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers They have also recently cut in half the funding for the Missouri River Recovery Program which exists to fix the environmental devastation caused by the construction of the Missouri River Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project Congress has never shown a real commitment to fixing the messes they have created in our rivers Proponents of NESP will say but we have the Comparable Progress clause in the NESP authorization to protect us We have included the clause from public law below for your review SEC 8005 COMPARABLE PROGRESS a IN GENERAL As the Secretary conducts pre engineering design and construction for projects authorized under this title the Secretary shall 1 select appropriate milestones 2 determine at the time of such selection whether the projects are being carried out at comparable rates and 3 make an annual report to Congress beginning in fiscal year 2009 regarding whether the projects are being carried out at a comparable rate b NO COMPARABLE RATE If the Secretary or Congress determines under subsection a 2 that projects authorized under this title are not moving toward completion at a comparable rate annual funding requests for the projects shall be adjusted to ensure that the projects move toward completion at a comparable rate in the future The major problem with this clause if you read it closely is that nowhere does it use the words navigation or ecosystem restoration within the context of comparable progress It simply discusses the requirement for the adjustment of projects not moving forward at a comparable rate It may be my cynicism showing but projects within the NESP authorization are locks as well as other types of construction activities both navigation and restoration related It does not say that the navigation and ecosystem restoration components must move forward at comparable rates The Corps Implementation Guidelines have added those clarifiers but are they defensible Given the completely avoidable vagueness

    Original URL path: http://www.waterprotectionnetwork.org/2016/02/the-wic-protests-too-much-methinks/ (2016-04-30)
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  • Support Agency Implementation of Executive Order 13690 and the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard – Water Protection Network
    Elevate to the 500 year flood level a flood with a 0 2 percent chance of occurring in any given year Further EO 13690 is a significant step forward for protecting our floodplains and preserving habitat Teal landing on seasonal wetland Photo Credit U S Fish and Wildlife Service The executive order requires agencies where possible use natural systems and green infrastructure when developing alternatives to constructing in a floodplain The preservation of the natural and beneficial values of floodplains offers numerous co benefits Floodplain and coastal zones help stabilize our shorelines and riverbanks provide important habitat for wildlife control erosion and improve water quality by filtering out pollutants Preserving the function of our nation s floodplains and requiring federal project be built smarter and safer are necessary updates to federal flood policy as climate change will exacerbate our nation s susceptibility to disastrous flood events According to the United States Global Change Research Program the impacts and costliness of weather disasters like flooding are increasing events considered rare today will become more common in the future due to climate change And damages from flooding are already considerable Flooding has cost the U S economy an estimated 260 billion over the past 30 years Coastal Highway to Indian River Inlet Delaware Photo Credit www delawareonline com Annual damages from flooding are now averaging 10 billion up from 5 6 billion per year in the mid 1990s FEMA alone has spent 48 6 billion in Public Assistance Grants between 1998 and 2014 in the wake of floods As climate change raises sea levels and alters precipitation patterns coastal areas and riverine communities will become increasingly susceptible to flooding potentially magnifying the cost to repair public infrastructure Enacting resiliency polices like the EO 13690 and the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard are crucial for reducing our nation s exposure to future flood risk In October 2015 final guidelines directing federal agencies on how to implement Executive Order 13690 were issued Agencies now must revise their regulations and operating procedures to incorporate the requirements of the executive order As the final guidelines are only advisory agencies have discretion in how they incorporate EO 13690 and the FFRMS Thus over the course of the next year the Water Protection Network members have an opportunity to use their strength as advocates to influence how agencies choose to implement the executive order and the standard Already many Water Protection Network members have come out in support of a strong interpretation of the executive order and the standard Last year several members added their names to sign on letters and directly lobbied Congress to explain the need for these standards and benefits As a result of these actions WPN members helped successfully fend off efforts by Congress to block the implementation of the Standard Yet more still needs to be done Water Protection Network members need to maintain pressure on federal agencies like the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ensure

    Original URL path: http://www.waterprotectionnetwork.org/2016/02/support-agency-implementation-of-executive-order-13690-and-the-federal-flood-risk-management-standard/ (2016-04-30)
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  • Federal Flood Risk Management Standards Updated Just in Time for Record-breaking Winter Floods – Water Protection Network
    December with what was essentially the first update in 38 years to the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard The efforts to update the standard began in early 2015 with President Obama s executive order No 13690 mandating all federally funded projects located in a floodplain be built higher and stronger than the previously required 100 year flood level Buildings would now be elevated 2 or 3 feet above the 100 year flood level or at the 500 year flood level The mandate would apply to both new construction and rebuilding of federally funded projects following a disaster Billions of dollars of federally funded construction projects would be subject to the new standard at a time when flooding in the U S is getting worse every year because of climate change This is using taxpayer money wisely protecting investments that won t get washed away in 10 years It frustrates me to no end when we see these big floods and we see places like nursing homes or low income housing get flooded That should never be the case Chad Berginnis Executive Director Association of State Floodplain Managers Despite the obvious need to update the Federal Flood Risk Management Standards many fought back The states of Texas and Louisiana publicly questioned the legality of the standard Congress began attaching budget riders to three appropriations bills preventing funding for the new standard The chance at updating a standard that had not seen any advances in almost four decades began to look grim In what should have been a unified goal s uddenly because the update had the words climate and change in it it became a partisan issue Robert Moore policy analyst and director of the Natural Resources Defense Council s Water and Climate Team WPNetwork members may recall sign on requests last summer followed by an in depth presentation by Joel Scata attorney at NRDC at our 2015 Annual Meeting Many of you had the opportunity to speak directly with Hill Staff to explain the need for these standards and benefits We were not alone in this endeavor Environmental groups and flood policy experts also met with politicians from both parties to explain the standard and its benefits In what could only be described as a DC ism Congress approved funding for the program Congress unveils FY 2016 omnibus appropriations package Hidden on page 605 of the 2016 omnibus bill Congress approved the program but in a way that really makes one read the fine print The omnibus rider began with language stating no federal funds could be used to implement the standard followed by a qualifier statement other than for and lists nearly all of the activities in Executive Order 13690 With funding on the way the next step will be for government agencies to develop guidelines to implement the new policy which could take another six months to a year We are confident that our WPNetwork Members are curious about the language choice when reading the words nearly all

    Original URL path: http://www.waterprotectionnetwork.org/2016/01/federal-flood-risk-management-standards-updated-just-in-time-for-record-breaking-winter-floods/ (2016-04-30)
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  • Top 5 Reasons Nature-Based Solutions Help Protect Wildlife and You – Water Protection Network
    Adapting existing infrastructure to incorporate nature based solutions is the best approach for combatting the impacts of climate change 3 Protects Wetlands Wetlands are an amazing source of biodiversity and they naturally reduce the impacts from floods maintain water quality and help stabilize climatic conditions just to name a few of their benefits The key to successfully protecting them is to improve projects to avoid mitigation completely focusing instead on utilizing ecosystem function long term planning and continued monitoring The New Madrid Floodway is an integral part of the Mississippi River ecosystem and provides vital fish and wildlife habitat 4 Improves the Decision Making Process Incorporating nature based solutions both at the state and federal level is a key way to improve the decision making process to ensure ecosystem services are protected and incorporated With 35 states already implementing constitutional provisions protecting environmental rights the time is prime for ensuring nature based solutions are part of the decision making process 5 Engages the Community Motivating people to act in ways that protect and sustain the world around them can be difficult Even high impact communications about the value of ecosystem services can fail to inspire But coalitions like the Water Protection Network help continue the dialogue by providing resources for nonprofits in the field to provide information on what is at stake who benefits and who stands to lose when we fail to include nature based solutions A community member enjoying the benefits of a healthy ecosystem What is the Water Protection Network The Water Protection Network Network is a coalition working to ensure our Nation s water resources policies and projects are environmentally and economically sound Network members include national regional and local conservation organizations from 43 states the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands Want to Learn

    Original URL path: http://www.waterprotectionnetwork.org/2015/11/top-5-reasons-nature-based-solutions-help-protect-wildlife-and-you/ (2016-04-30)
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