Fact Sheet 06: Flood Risk Management

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Published May 7, 2015
Updated: Feb. 24, 2023

Emergency Bank ProtectionHigh water up to a gauge about 18 inches

Section 14 of the 1946 Flood Control Act, as amended, permits the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct bank protection projects. The work must be to protect endangered highways, bridge approaches and other essential public works such as municipal water supply systems and sewage disposal plants, churches, hospitals, schools and other nonprofit public services and known cultural sites endangered by flood-caused erosion. Work can be done for endangered habitat, too. The repair, restoration and/or modification of the eroding stream banks is also allowed. Section 14 covers only protection of important and essential public facilities serving the public. In addition to highway systems of national importance, eligible highways may also include streets and roads of importance to the local community.

Flood Plain Management Services

The Corps’ Flood Plain Management Services Program is authorized by Section 206 of the Flood Control Act of 1960, as amended. Under this program, the Corps is authorized, upon request by other federal, state, local entities or tribe, to provide a full range of technical services and planning guidance on floods and floodplain issues. These services typically include providing flood hazard evaluations to any and all interests; interpreting existing flood data; developing data on the extent, depth and frequency of flooding; and developing and disseminating information on nonstructural options, such as flood proofing and flood plain evacuation. In addition, the Corps can develop emergency evacuation plans and comprehensive flood-warning systems; post signs in the floodplains indicating the 100-year flood elevation; and determine the flood susceptibility of structures for flood insurance purposes.

Flood Risk Management Projects (Small)

The Corps has the authority, provided by Section 205 of the 1948 Flood Control Act, as amended, to plan, design and construct certain small flood risk management projects that have not already been specifically authorized by Congress. Both structural solutions and nonstructural solutions can be considered. A project may also include features for other purposes provided local interests indicate a need and are willing to fund the additional costs. Each project selected must be economically justified – that is, the benefits resulting from constructing a project must exceed the cost incurred to build the project. It also must be environmentally acceptable and a complete project within and by itself. Each separate project is limited to a total federal cost of not more than $10 million, including studies, plans and specifications, and construction.

Emergency Operations

One of the Corps’ primary missions is to provide assistance when disasters or other emergencies occur. Emergency preparedness and response is primarily a local responsibility. However, inA temporary earther levee instances when the disaster exceeds the capabilities of a state or a tribe, the Corps may provide help to save human life, prevent immediate human suffering or mitigate property damage. An imminent threat of unusual flooding must exist. The threat must be established by the National Weather Service’s forecasts or by the Corps’ determinations of unusual flooding from adverse conditions.