Flood Mitigation Projects

This document gives examples of actions that an individual property owner, a group of individuals, or a local government can take to reduce damage caused by flooding. The projects listed range from small projects costing a few hundred dollars that can be accomplished by an individual homeowner to large projects that can only be undertaken by local units of government. In many cases, communities can apply for FEMA, Wisconsin DNR, or other grants to cover part of the cost of the larger projects.

The list of mitigation options provided below is lengthy, but is by no means comprehensive. The list was adapted in part from FEMA’s Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to Protect Your House From Flooding, available at no cost from FEMA’s publications distribution center at (800) 480-2520 (request publication 312) or on the web at www.fema.gov/rebuild/; from FEMA Region V’s Mitigation Ideas: Possible Mitigation Measures by Hazard Type, available at emergencymanagement.wi.gov; and from FEMA’s website: Protect your Property, Home, or Business from Disaster at www.fema.gov/plan/.

In undertaking any of these projects, it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • Any nonconforming structure in the floodplain that is “substantially damaged” (i.e., damage to the point that repairs would cost 50% or more of the structure’s pre-damage equalized assessed value) or “substantially improved” (i.e., improved by a value that when combined with the value of all other improvements over the life of the structure equals or exceeds 50% of the structure’s present equalized assessed value) must be brought into conformance with local floodplain development regulations. The costs of elevating a nonconforming building are excluded from these requirements, however other floodproofing improvements are not.
  • All development in the 100-year floodplain (including improvements to existing structures, dredging, filling, paving, etc.) must have a permit.
  • If a mitigation project will involve a property 50 years old or older and if you plan to use any financial assistance from a federal agency, you must work with that agency to ensure that the project complies with the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470).
  • All of the projects described below, including changes to the plumbing, electrical system, and ventilating ductwork in your home, should be done by a licensed professional who will ensure that the work is done correctly and according to all applicable codes. This is important for your safety.

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Revised: October 18, 2007