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Corps of Engineers releases interim policy on eligibility status for flood risk management projects in rehabilitation program

Published May 5, 2014

CONCORD, Mass.The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released an interim policy for determining eligibility status nationwide for flood risk management projects in the rehabilitation program (Public Law 84-99). The Corps is in the process of revising its policies, including those related to the Flood Risk Management Program, the Levee Safety Program and the Rehabilitation Program.


As a result of public feedback and interest, the Corps initiated a comprehensive review of the rehabilitation program and is revising the program to better syncronize flood risk management and levee safety. The intent is to improve agency policy, support the agency’s strategic direction and advances in risk-informed decision making, increase transparent communication and enhance long-term sustainability.


The changes will be implemented in two phases. The first phase will be through an interim change to the existing policy addressing only levee systems covered under the Rehabilitation Program. The second phase will be to develop a final policy covering all types of infrastructure covered under the Rehabilitation Program. The interim policy change will allow eligibility determinations to be made for the Rehabilitation Period while the new final policy is being developed.


The interim policy is only applicable to levee systems.  All other types of infrastructure (channels, dams, or hurricane shore protection projects) will remain suspended (i.e. eligibility in the Rehabilitation Program will be frozen as of the status on Nov. 25, 2013) until the final policy is completed. The new final policy will require changes to 33 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 203 through the rule making process which can take up to 12 months or longer.


The Rehabilitation Program is the program in which public sponsors of flood risk management projects (mostly levee systems, but also channel and dam projects) can voluntarily decide to participate. In doing so, the public sponsor agrees to maintain these projects in accordance to specific maintenance standards and once all these standards are met, those projects are eligible for rehabilitation assistance if they are damaged by a flood or coastal storm. 


“Life safety is paramount. Managing, communicating and reducing flood risk is a shared responsibility among federal, state and local government agencies,” said Michael Bachand, Levee Safety Program Manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District.


Previously, eligibility in the Rehabilitation Program was determined based on the Overall Segment/System Rating.  If the Overall Segment/System Rating was rated as either “Acceptable” or “Minimally Acceptable”, the segment/system remained “active” in the Rehabilitation Program and eligible for rehabilitation assistance.


If the Overall Segment/System Rating was rated as “Unacceptable”, the segment/system was moved to an “Inactive” status in the Rehabilitation Program and ineligible for rehabilitation assistance until the “Unacceptable” rated items were corrected and confirmed by the Corps through an inspection.


Effectively immediately, the Overall Segment/System Rating will not be used to determine eligibility in the Rehabilitation Program. Instead the eligibility in the Rehabilitation Program will be determined by subset of the inspection items drawn from the existing checklist in accordance with the interim policy. An “Unacceptable” rating on any of the subset items will result in the system being put into an “Inactive” status in the Rehabilitation Program and as a result ineligible for rehabilitation assistance.  The subset items are taken directly from the current Inspection Checklist. The ratings of “A”, “M”, or “U” will be based on the guidelines for each rated item in the Inspection Checklist. Any Inspection Report sent out (regardless of the date of the field inspection) after Nov. 25, 2013, the eligibility in the Rehabilitation Program must be evaluated based on the interim policy.

In New England, many of these flood risk management projects were built 40 to70 years ago by the federal government as a result of historic floods. Once built, by program agreement they were turned over to the local government for operation and maintenance and funding. The Corps conducts periodic inspections. As long as the project was not rated unacceptable, it remained active in the PL 84-99 Rehabilitation Program, and was eligilbe for federal assistance for repairs if the project was damaged in a storm.


Considerations for developing the interim policy included: interim eligiblity criteria would be drawn from information currently collected during inspections; no new eligibility criteria would be created without a rulemaking process; and vegetation on levees is no longer a criteria for determining eligibility in the Rehabilitation Program.


The future eligibility criteria for the Rehabilitation Program will focus on encouraging flood risk management activities such as emergency preparedness planning, risk communication and prioritization maintenance activities based on risk.


More information on local protection projects in New England is available at:


Tim Dugan

Release no. 2014-053