Watershed Planning Initiative
The Watershed Planning Initiative is funded through a $26.6 million grant under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), as approved by FDEM and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with the purpose of creating standardized, cost-effective, and easily replicable Watershed Master Plans (WMP) throughout the state of Florida. According to NFIP (2019), there are 1.77 million flood insurance policies in Florida, and a 5% discount in communities with large concentrations of flood insurance policy holders would result in cumulative yearly savings far exceeding the cost of the grant award.
The Community Rating System (CRS) scores NFIP communities by awarding credits for implementing higher floodplain management standards. Communities are graded along ten classes. A CRS Class 10 ranking provides no flood insurance discount, and a Class 1 ranking provides a 45% discount on flood insurance premiums for policyholders within that jurisdiction.
Importantly, CRS Class 5 communities—of which there are 43 currently in Florida—cannot progress to a CRS Class 4 ranking without the creation and adoption of a Watershed Master Plan.
Due to this CRS Class barrier, the Watershed Planning Initiative was created to ensure Florida communities progress to better CRS Class rankings, which in turn would reduce flood insurance costs for Florida residents and enhance mitigation practices in communities vulnerable to flood risk exposure.
For Phase I of the Initiative, FDEM partnered with Florida Atlantic University. FAU conducted research and developed a framework and guidance document for a consistent statewide approach to Watershed Master Plan development. They also produced complete Watershed Master Plans for two Florida communities, one inland and one coastal. A summary of Phase I deliverables is listed below:
- Catalogue and analysis of all available data pertaining to Watershed Master Plans in Florida and identified data gaps.
- Watershed Master Plan statewide catalogue including a list of watershed, flood, and floodplain management related documents. This document also includes Watershed Master Plan best practice examples.
- Developed a Watershed Master Plan development strategy and verified the flood modeling process (CASCADE) which will be used in Phase II. 10-year and 100-year preliminary flood maps were developed for each of the 29 watershed basins in Florida
- Developed an instructional manual for the CASCADE screening tool, which details how to implement the screening tool methodology and flood risk scoring system for local communities; and developed a Watershed Master Plan template for communities, which standardizes, streamlines, and simplifies Watershed Master Plan development for communities.
- Used the Watershed Master Plan template to develop two Watershed Master Plans – one for a coastal community and one for an inland community. These plans were reviewed by CRS officials and confirmed they would satisfy the Watershed Master Plan requirements for CRS points.
To view the WMPs completed in Phase I, please visit the following resource site.
Phase II of the Watershed Planning Initiative launches the notice of proposal for this first-of-its-kind planning endeavor. The proposal period opened on April 8, 2022 and will continue until close of business on June 3, 2022.
Eligible applicants for this opportunity include:
- Units of Local Government
- Water Management Districts
- Intergovernmental Partnerships (e.g. Regional Planning Councils, Regional Water Management Authorities)
The slidedecks from the Initiative webinars and all documents a proposer will need to submit a proposal can be found at the following resource site.
These documents include:
- Notice of Proposal Form – Watershed Planning Initiative Proposal
- CRS Points Spreadsheet
- LMS Endorsement Letter
To view the recordings from the Initiative webinars, see the videos posted below.
Watershed Planning Initiative Phase II Launch Webinar Videos