Reducing Flood Risks With a Citywide Watershed Master Plan

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Mike Wayts

Infrastructure Engineer

The City of Fayetteville recognized that fortifying for the future required taking a broad look at resilience. Now, they’re finding solutions for flooding problems stemming from infrastructure systems that weren’t designed for storms that are increasingly severe and happening more often.

The City is spending approximately $10 million over a relatively short period to protect residents, businesses and property by creating a forward-thinking, long-term watershed master plan.

The Spring/Summer issue of FlashFlood News, the newsletter of the North Carolina Association of Floodplain Managers, looks at the City’s experience and the benefits a watershed master plan can offer other communities. The article was written by Sheila Thomas-Ambat, City of Fayetteville Public Services Director, and Freese and Nichols’ Ed Dickson, Morgan McIlwain and Jason Currie.

Developing the master plan displays a significant commitment, involving considerable effort that can be categorized into these core interconnected components:

  • A high-level citywide modeling effort to identify the most flood-prone areas
  • Detailed hydrologic and hydraulic studies and alternatives analysis of those flood-prone areas
  • A sophisticated new database that will make it easier to track infrastructure needs and fix specific problems
  • Studies identifying capital improvement projects that will address the highest-priority needs

The City’s watershed master plan offers a leading example of how a community can harness its determination and resources to protect residents and property.

These are key points about how can a watershed master plan help build for the future:

  • It identifies locations where flooding is most likely to occur and pose hazards for people and property.
  • It creates an opportunity to update data by having crews in the field collecting a wide range of information about assets citywide.
  • It allows public officials to identify areas of concern and determine the highest-priority stormwater projects for a community.
  • It helps outline other actions needed in addition to infrastructure projects, such as warning systems at hazardous locations and invaluable background information for future grant applications and Community Rating System (CRS) updates.
  • It supports long-range goals by providing the framework to prepare for additional growth and development.

Read “Channeling Resources: How a Citywide Watershed Master Plan Can Reduce Flood Risks”

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Mike Wayts, PE, CFM, is a Vice President/Principal and North Carolina Division Manager.