Floodplain Changes and Executive Order 13807

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Jeremy Dixon

Stormwater Engineer

In Executive Order 13807, signed Aug.15, President Donald Trump revoked Executive Order 13690, which was signed by President Barack Obama on Jan. 30, 2015.

Executive Order 13690 had established the Federal Flood Risk Management Standards, setting new limitations on federal projects that were located within the floodplain. The specific text in Executive Order 13807 states:

“Section 6.  Executive Order 13690 of Jan. 30, 2015 (Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input), is revoked.”

As it relates to Floodplains, new federal projects are no longer required to elevate the project site to the highest elevation based on:

  • Climate-informed science approach, such as best-available hydrologic and hydraulic data to anticipate future changes in flooding based on climate science
  • Higher freeboard that may be 100-year flood level +2 or + 3 feet
  • 500-year flood elevation

The new Executive Order does not prohibit design to these standards, it just removes the requirement to do so. See our previous blog about Executive Order 13690 for more information. 

The new Executive Order was presented as a reduction in federal “red tape” by streamlining the review process, assigning one lead agency for projects requiring the coordination of multiple federal agencies, and providing a mechanism to escalate urgency when deadlines and milestones are missed or extended by the federal government.

The policy goals are outlined in Section 2 of the Executive Order, highlighted below.

(e) Be good stewards of public funds, including those used to develop infrastructure projects, and avoid duplicative and wasteful processes;

(f) Conduct environmental reviews and authorization processes in a coordinated, consistent, predictable and timely manner in order to give public and private investors the confidence necessary to make funding decisions for new infrastructure projects;

(g) Speak with a coordinated voice when conducting environmental reviews and making authorization decisions; and

(h) Make timely decisions with the goal of completing all federal environmental reviews and authorization decisions for major infrastructure projects within two years.

These policies are further expanded in Section 5 of the Executive Order.

From Section 5.b:

(i) Each major infrastructure project shall have a lead federal agency… including … a primary federal point of contact at each federal agency.

(ii)   … the federal lead, cooperating, and participating agencies for each major infrastructure project shall all record any individual agency decision in one Record of Decision (ROD)…  The federal lead, cooperating, and participating agencies shall all agree to a permitting timetable that includes the completion dates for the ROD and the federally required authorizations for the project.

(iii)  All federal authorization decisions for the construction of a major infrastructure project shall be completed within 90 days of the issuance of a ROD by the lead federal agency, provided that the final EIS includes an adequate level of detail to inform agency decisions pursuant to their specific statutory authority and requirements.  The lead federal agency may extend the 90-day deadline if the lead federal agency determines that federal law prohibits the agency from issuing its approval or permit within the 90-day period, the project sponsor requests that the permit or approval follow a different timeline, or the lead federal agency determines that an extension would better promote completion of the project’s environmental review and authorization process.

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Jeremy Dixon, PE, CFM, is a Project Engineer in Stormwater Management in Dallas.