Flood Protection Pay-Offs: A Local Government Guide to the Community Rating System

Executive Summary

Virginia localities are currently faced with several challenges:  insurance rates from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are increasing, sea levels are rising, budgets are strained, and there are an increasing number of regulatory requirements imposed on local governments to reduce stormwater runoff. Wetlands Watch’s activities intersected many of these elements and we saw opportunities for localities to earn flood insurance discounts with a coordinated strategy meeting stormwater program requirements, thus maximizing efficient use of scarce local government funds.

The NFIP’s Community Rating System (CRS) is at the center of this strategy. In exchange for advanced floodplain management efforts, the CRS provides flood insurance discounts for constituents within a locality. Reduced flood insurance rates ensure that homes remain affordable, maintaining the population and tax base.

The CRS provides credit for many existing programs in Virginia localities, such as stormwater regulations and system maintenance, building code enforcement and stringent floodplain ordinances, and open space preservation. Employing existing programs for CRS credit improves efficiency, encourages collaboration between municipal departments, and provides multiple benefits from a single action.

The challenge for localities is detailing and mapping these co-benefits. This Wetlands Watch CRS report is a guide for local governments to determine what common activities and programs may earn credit. Readers can review the basic requirements for credit, determine whether program adjustments are necessary for credit and if those adjustments are worth the investment for a locality, and learn if funding opportunities are available to assist localities in advancing creditable programs that further community goals.

Increased CRS participation provides flood insurance discounts to constituents, reduces strains on the housing market and tax base, and provides incentives to adapt to sea level rise and increased flooding, all of which can be accomplished through documenting existing programs.