Rep. Sherrill Introduces Bipartisan Package of Legislation to Address Flooding
Washington, DC — Representative Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) introduced a package of bipartisan bills to address flooding, the most common and widespread of all weather-related natural disasters in the United States. Despite numerous challenges posed by storms, weather forecasting is inherently uncertain. It’s particularly important to address the communication of uncertainty and discuss not only predictions of weather variables, but also predictions of weather impacts. The legislation is co-sponsored by Deborah Ross (NC-02), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Gwen Moore (WI-04), and Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06).
“Flooding can be devastating for homeowners, business owners, and communities across the country,” said Rep. Sherrill. “We’ve seen the impact right here in North Jersey with repeat flooding events. The FLOODS Act and the PRECIP Act will help the federal government improve forecasting and communication of flood, tornado, and hurricane events to better serve communities at risk for flooding events.”
The Flood Level Observation, Operations, and Decision Support (FLOODS) Act establishes a National Integrated Flood Information System to coordinate and integrate flood research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It also establishes partnerships with institutions of higher education to improve total water predictions and establishes a committee to ensure coordination of federal departments with joint or overlapping responsibilities in water management. The bill would improve flood risk communications, including flood watches and warnings.
The following groups have supported the FLOODS Act: Jacobs, Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO), Union of Concerned Scientists, Association of State Floodplain Management (ASFPM), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Iowa Flood Center, American Public Works Association (APWA).
“Investing in science and NOAA’s prediction and communication capabilities is crucial and will help keep communities—particularly vulnerable communities in coastal and inland floodplains—safe,” said Shana Udvardy, Climate Resilience Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists. “As the climate changes we’re seeing more and more simultaneous climate-related disasters and their cascading effects grimly foreshadow our future with continued climate change causing simultaneous climate impacts, overlapping disasters and cascading effects. The FLOODS Act is a timely bill that will give NOAA the boost in resources it needs to improve monitoring, forecasting, and communication of future flood risks and hazardous flash flood events. As a science-based organization that relies on NOAA’s data, we are fully supportive of the provisions in the FLOODS Act.”
“Jacobs partners with communities across America to enhance flood protection in an era when climate change is causing an alarming increase in flooding,” said Steve Demetriou, Jacobs Chair & CEO. “With rising tides and worsening storms, it is critical that the U.S. federal government provides community leaders and citizens with the tools they need to make faster and smarter decisions about how to best protect themselves. By improving our communication efforts regarding flooding, resiliency and climate adaptation, American cities and towns can combat these trends by optimizing their planning and response to major flood stresses and shocks – ultimately reducing damage and recovery costs while improving citizen safety. Jacobs strongly supports the bipartisan FLOODS Act because it is an important step towards these goals.”
“The Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) is thrilled to see the issues of rainfall estimation, flood warning, and flood risk communication being comprehensively addressed by the FLOODS and PRECIP acts,” said Chad Berginnis, Executive Director, ASFPM. “By leveraging the capability and scale of the federal government to comprehensively address these basic data collection and dissemination functions we can make meaningful progress in our fight against escalating flood impacts to our homes, businesses, communities, and citizens.”
The Providing Research and Estimates of Changes in Precipitation (PRECIP) Act would update out-of-date precipitation data in the U.S. by providing NOAA with consistent funding to collect data and conduct studies. It also directs NOAA to include future changes in precipitation due to climate change in the studies and to contract with the National Academies to complete a consensus study on best practices for estimating precipitation, including probable maximum precipitation estimates.
The following groups have supported the PRECIP Act: Pew Charitable Trusts, Jacobs, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO), Geospatial Equipment & Technology Institute (GETI), National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), US Geospatial Executives Organization (U.S. GEO), Waterfront Alliance, Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM), Union of Concerned Scientists, Iowa Flood Center, American Public Works Association (APWA).
“ASCE applauds Chairwoman Sherrill for introducing the PRECIP Act, a bill that is vital as we work to ensure our infrastructure is resilient to the impacts of climate change,” said ASCE President Jean-Louis Briaud, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE. “The nation’s civil engineers require the most up to date data when they are designing critical infrastructure that protects public safety, such as dams and levees, so we are pleased to see the PRECIP Act prioritizes these investments. We look forward to working with the Chairwoman to see this critical legislation implemented.”
“The National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) congratulates Representative Sherrill on her foresight and inclusion of geospatial technology in the Providing Research and Estimates of Changes in Precipitation (PRECIP) Act,” said Curtis Sumner, Executive Director, National Society of Professional Surveyors. “By updating out-of-date precipitation data nationwide, this legislation will help NOAA assist FEMA’s flood mapping efforts thereby enhancing the role of the surveying profession.”
“The U.S. Geospatial Executives Organization (U.S. GEO) commends Representative Sherrill for recognizing the power of geospatial technology and its myriad applications in the Providing Research and Estimates of Changes in Precipitation or PRECIP Act,” said John Palatiello, President & Founder, U.S. GEO. “The ability to gather data, integrate and analyze such data, and visualize such data in a geographic information systems (GIS) will enable better management in the face of weather trends resulting in everything from droughts to floods.”
“Geospatial technology data acquisition technology from space, in the air, and on the ground can provide valuable data that will enhance precipitation forecasting. The Geospatial Equipment and Technology Institute (GETI) supports the PRECIP Act and commends Representative Sherrill for including an examination of the capabilities and role of geospatial equipment, instruments, and software in her legislation,” said John Byrd, Vice President and Director of Government Affairs, Geospatial Equipment and Technology Institute.
“On behalf of the dam safety community, and speaking as a dam regulator, we are excited to support this renewed federal effort as described in the PRECIP Act and look forward to collaborating with NOAA and the NWS in development of 21st century products for a changing climate,” said Association of State Dam Safety Officials President Bill McCormick. “The products of this Act will allow us to collectively ensure a future where all dams are safe.”
“As the climate changes and the severity and frequency of extreme precipitation events rise in most regions of the country, this bill will help ensure communities get the information they need to be safer,” said Shana Udvardy, Climate Resilience Analyst. “New research has revealed that increases in extreme rainfall in the US caused $73 billion in flood damages over the last 30 years, a full third of total flood damage costs during that time frame. By enabling NOAA to provide consistent updates to precipitation data based on the latest science, the PRECIP Act will help us plan for a climate ready future.”
"Having accurate, nationally-available climate data is critical, particularly in forms that are usable by the designers and engineers who build our infrastructure, and Cities that experience flood risk. Through WEDG (Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines), we work closely with design, risk, and real estate sectors to build resilient waterfront communities. The availability of regularly updated NOAA precipitation data would significantly improve the ability of Cities, designers, and regulators across the country better prepare our coastal communities for climate change,” said Cortney Worrall, President & CEO, Waterfront Alliance.