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New Standards for Flood Hazard Mapping

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently developed a set of 450 standards for the National Flood Insurance program (NFIP) which will serve as a replacement for all the standards listed in the current document, Guidelines and Specifications for Flood Hazard Mapping Partners.

Although a majority of the “new” standards are consistent with previous requirements for FEMA flood risk mapping, there has been a significant change in the way standards are organized. The new standards have been broken up into two groups based on the level of approval required for an exception. The first group, Program Standards, require FEMA Headquarters approval for exceptions while the second, Working Standards, can be approved at the Regional Branch Chief level. FEMA is headquartered in Washington, D.C., while the 10 Regional Offices are located throughout the country.

Modifications to existing standards include the following:

  • Vertical datum procedures require all new flood maps and updates to be referenced to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88), with specific exceptions
  • Project certifications have been modified to include separate licensed professional certifications for project completeness and compliance with program requirements
  • New elevation data production funded by FEMA must now comply with the SGS National Geospatial Program Base Lidar Specification Version 1.0 therefore changing the point density requirements for the highest specification level for existing elevation data
  • The mandatory requirement for Risk Map project charters has been removed
  • Basic Risk Map project requirements have been modified to make the Areas of Mitigation Interest Datasets a mandatory project element
  • Coast Barrier Resources System map update rules were modified to allow for some updates to take place using the “Notice to Users” process
  • Only a fraction of the panels making up an entire flood map are updated in the processing of a “physical map revision”
  • Slight technical modifications were made to the dataset schemas for the Flood Insurance Rate Map Database and Flood Risk Database

New standards include the following:

  • The maximum size of Letter of Map Revision has been revised to one effective flood map panel
    • If a Letter of Map Revision will revise multiple effective flood map panels, a Physical Map Revision will be required.
  • A standard to publish a note to the eligibility of new communities under the NFIP in the Federal Register has been established

The Draft Risk Map Operational Standards can be accessed at

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TagsFEMA, flood hazard mapping,


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