From June 2015 Floodplain Management Today
On May 1st, the city of Lincoln officially became a Class 5 CRS community; the highest rated in the state! Flood insurance policyholders in the city now save nearly $500,000 in premiums every year due to the 25% discount. The city’s rating recognizes the outstanding floodplain management program in place. From conducting outreach projects to adopting higher regulatory standards, Lincoln is well deserving of its rating.
The city’s extensive use of GIS systems earns credits in multiple areas. Simply having a detailed set of flood data garners points in Activity 440 (Flood Data Maintenance). City staff also manage the city’s extensive drainage system using an integrated GIS-maintenance platform, which gives them an important tool in keeping track of debris and other problems in the channels and streams. The GIS platform also allowed the city to submit an outstanding map documenting the drainage system for Activity 540 (Drainage System Maintenance).
Lincoln receives its largest number of points for having 61% of the Special Flood Hazard Area preserved as open space. Many areas like Wilderness Park, Oak Lake Park, and the various wetland preserves north of the city provide natural floodplain functions including flood storage. Lincoln also has a setback rule that requires new buildings to be at least a specified distance away from the stream, which helps keep more floodplain out of development.
The city receives points for its good work in communicating about flood risk to citizens and businesses. Lincoln hosts a robust website about flooding and floodplain management. City staff respond to inquiries from homeowners looking to reduce their risk.
Lincoln also stands as the only community in the country to receive credits for its levees. Keeping people that live behind levees informed and safe are key pieces to getting this credit. The partnership between the city and the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District accomplishes this by conducting regular levee maintenance, developing multiple inundation maps, hosting an annual exercise, and engaging the public in the risk of living near levees.
Being a Class 5 community puts Lincoln in the top 10% of communities in the country. It has participated in CRS since the beginning of the program and deserves this new recognition. While Lincoln may have a larger staff than most communities in the state, their floodplain management program provides many lessons for other communities that want to improve their CRS score and become more flood resilient.