DEC Releases Draft Flood Risk Management Guidance

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DEC Releases Draft Flood Risk Management Guidance

Supports Governor Cuomo's Resilient NY Initiative to Bolster Community Resiliency and Reduce Flood Risk

Public Encouraged to Comment on Flood Risk Guidance by August 20

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the release of two flood-risk management guidance documents for public review. The flood-risk management guidance documents were developed under the Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA), which requires applicants for some State permits, State funding, and certain facility-siting regulations to consider future physical climate risk due to sea-level rise, storm surge, and flooding. The proposed guidance also addresses mitigating risk due to sea-level rise, storm surge, and flooding in the approval and funding of public infrastructure. CRRA added mitigation of these hazards to the State's list of smart-growth criteria for public infrastructure.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "DEC's flood risk guidance will serve as a valuable resource for state agencies and municipalities that prudently choose to incorporate these guidelines into local planning. Thanks to Governor Cuomo's leadership, New Yorkers across the state have tools to prepare for our changing climate and better protect public infrastructure, buildings, and other assets. While the federal government has chosen to ignore increasing flood risks by withdrawing the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, New York continues to work to protect our communities and public investments from flooding hazards." ‎

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo directed DEC to release New York State Flood Risk Management Guidance and Guidance for Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Assessment as part of his Resilient NY initiative to enhance community resiliency in the face of extreme weather.

Implementation of CRRA is an example of the State's leadership in combating climate change and increasing resiliency. Just weeks prior to the flooding, storm surges, and other damage caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the federal administration rescinded the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, which would have improved the flood resiliency of federally funded projects. The proposed State flood-risk management guidance released today ensures that New York remains at the forefront of climate resiliency and preparedness. CRRA requires DEC, in consultation with the New York State Department of State (DOS), to develop guidance to implement the statute.

DEC adopted projections of sea-level rise in February 2017. The guidance documents released today describe how those projections, as well as projections of increased riverine flooding, should be incorporated into project design in specified facility-siting, permitting, and funding programs. Consideration of riverine flooding extends the State's resiliency efforts beyond tidal areas, which is significant given the number of non-tidal communities in New York that have experienced flooding during extreme storm events.

DEC permitting programs affected by CRRA:

  • Oil and natural gas wells
  • Major projects: protection of waters, sewerage service, liquefied natural gas and liquefied propane facilities, mined land reclamation, freshwater wetlands, tidal wetlands, coastal erosion hazard areas

DEC facility-siting programs identified in CRRA:

  • Hazardous waste transportation, storage and distribution facility siting
  • Petroleum bulk storage
  • Hazardous substance bulk storage

Funding programs and agencies identified in CRRA:

  • Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund (DEC, Environmental Facilities Corporation [EFC])
  • Drinking Water Revolving Fund (Department of Health, EFC)
  • Open space acquisition (DEC, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation [OPRHP])
  • Open space project operation and maintenance agreements (OPRHP)
  • Landfill closure assistance (DEC)
  • Coastal rehabilitation project assistance (DEC)
  • Local waterfront revitalization (DOS)
  • Agricultural and farmland protection (Department of Agriculture and Markets)

The Department of Transportation has already incorporated these guidelines into the state Bridge Manual, which governs design of almost all bridges in the state, and the Governor directed DOS to recommend changes to the State Fire Prevention and Building Code based on these guidance documents. Through Resilient NY, the State is also providing funding to support local resiliency planning and providing emergency flood-response training for communities across the state. State agencies will continue to lead by example by developing climate resiliency plans based on vulnerability assessments currently underway.

New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "Governor Cuomo has put in place effective measures to protect New York's infrastructure. We are proud to be part of this multiagency effort that ensures community resiliency and flood risk reduction are priorities for future projects. This guidance gives government planners the necessary tools to combat climate change so that cities, towns and villages across the state can evolve and improve while also protecting residents and businesses."

State Department of Transportation Commissioner Paul A. Karas said, "Governor Cuomo is leading the way on protecting our environment and ensuring that our infrastructure is strong, resilient and modernized to withstand extreme weather and the challenges of tomorrow. We will continue to work with DEC, DOS and others to harden our transportation system and prepare for future storms and changing climate."

Issuance of these guidance documents complements the State's other activities to promote climate resilience, including Governor Cuomo's Resilient NY announcement in the 2018 State of the State address. Resilient NY will include recommendations for new building codes reflecting resilient building practices, the development of agency adaptation plans based on vulnerability assessments, and funding to municipalities to support resilient development.

As the federal government reverses its leadership role in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help communities adapt to the effects of climate change, New York has joined with California and Washington in the formation of the U.S. Climate Alliance. Alliance members have pledged to advance the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. New York has filled another important leadership void created by the federal government when it disbanded the Federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment. This committee had been charged with providing recommendations on how scientific information collected by federal scientists and others could be made more useful to decision makers. Through an agreement among Governor Cuomo's office, Columbia University, and the American Meteorological Society, this committee has been reconvened under the state's auspices and will provide its recommendations later this year.

DEC is proposing these documents as nonbinding technical guidance to agencies responsible for implementation of permit and funding programs specified by CRRA. DEC is accepting written public comment on these two documents through August 20, 2018. The proposed documents are available on DEC's website.

DEC is hosting three public information and comment meetings to provide the public with opportunities to learn about and comment on these guidance documents. Meetings are scheduled for the following locations:

  • 1:00 p.m., Wednesday July 18, DEC Region 8, 6274 East Avon-Lima Rd., Avon
  • 2:00 p.m., Thursday, July 19, DEC Headquarters, 625 Broadway, Albany, Room 919
  • 1:00 p.m., Wednesday, July 25, Suffolk County Water Authority Education Center, 260 Motor Parkway, Hauppauge

At these meetings, DEC will present information on CRRA and review recommended flood-risk management guidelines. Attendees are required to pre-register by e-mailing climatechange or calling (518) 402-8448. The July 19 meeting will also be accessible via WebEx webinar service. Instructions for accessing the CCR webinar on DEC's website.

Additional information on CRRA is available on DEC's website.

The deadline for comments is August 20. Comments on the draft New York State Flood Risk Management Guidance and Guidance for Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Assessment may be submitted by email to climatechange, please include "CRRA Comments" in the subject line of the email; and by mail to DEC, Office of Climate Change, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-1030.

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Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor * Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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