Category: Watersheds, Wetlands & Stormwater (page 1 of 13)

Are Floodplain Buyouts a Smart Investment for Local Governments?

Guest post by David Salvesen and Christian Kamrath

Hurricane Matthew, which struck North Carolina in October 2016, reminded us of just how vulnerable North Carolina is to flooding.  Torrential rains caused severe flooding that breached levees, closed major roads and inundated entire communities.  Thousands of homes in the eastern part of the state were destroyed. Continue reading

Act Locally, Save Federally: The National Flood Insurance CRS Program

The UNC Environmental Finance Center (EFC) typically focuses on the role of local governments in directly providing and funding basic community environmental services such as water, wastewater, stormwater, and solid waste management. For example, the EFC recently released a set of resources related to local government stormwater fees that local programs use to fund their stormwater services. These types of resources help local governments raise funds for critical environmental protection activities but there are other ways that local governments can play a role in supporting environmental finance.

Recent news out of Brunswick County, North Carolina, highlights the fact that local governments can have a significant impact on environmental expenses paid to other branches of government as well. Continue reading

The New Kid on the Block: Carrboro’s Stormwater Management Utility

How Carrboro’s creation of a Stormwater Management Utility exemplifies the increasing need for stormwater finance options.

Effective July 1, 2017, the Town of Carrboro followed in the footsteps of local governments across North Carolina, such as the City of Hendersonville, by creating its first Stormwater Management Utility. According to the Staff Report, Carrboro has experienced an increase in severe storms affecting its area, as well as an increase in state and federal requirements for better and more intensive stormwater management, creating an increasing finance conundrum. Both the Town’s current National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), Phase II permit, and North Carolina’s Jordan Lake rules require that the Town meet certain water quality criteria. Based on recent studies conducted by the Town, it is estimated that it will cost Carrboro, a town with a population of just over 21,000 residents, roughly $4 million over the next decade to comply with the requirements of the Jordan Lake rules. Continue reading

Local Government Financial Resilience and Preparation Before a Natural Disaster

The 2017 U.S. Atlantic hurricane season is officially the most expensive ever, amounting to $202.6 billion in damages across the Atlantic basin. This record-breaking hurricane season brought some of the most catastrophic storms in recent memory. As Hurricane Katrina reshaped New Orleans in 2005, the destruction induced by Harvey, Irma, and Maria will have lasting consequences for cities and towns in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. The devastation is likely to be even more long-lasting for many of the hardest hit small islands across the Caribbean. And hurricanes are not the only natural disasters with a hefty price tag; drought, freezing temperatures, severe storms, wildfires, and winter storms cause billions of dollars in damages every year.

As a result of rapid urbanization, climate change, and increases in population and material wealth continue to mount, municipalities are becoming extremely vulnerable to natural disasters, making it necessary for local governments to become more resilient to catastrophes. Natural disaster resiliency often focuses on the built environment and hazard mitigation, but what about weathering the storm from a financial perspective? The following tips can help a local government be financially resilient in the face of a natural disaster: Continue reading

How Communities Can Save Money on National Flood Insurance

Throughout 2017, there has been discussion in Congress surrounding the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is set to expire tomorrow, Dec. 8. The program was established in 1968 as a service to at-risk communities by providing flood insurance in exchange for communities’ adoption of floodplain management regulations. Today, while many sources expect at least a short-term reauthorization, the program insures approximately 5 million homes throughout the country.

Looking at the recent history of legislation surrounding the program, national flood insurance premiums look likely to increase in coming years. In 2012, Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, resulting in the planned removal of subsidies from the flood insurance policies. This would have increased premiums by up to 10 times in some cases. Though this law was replaced in 2014 by the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, price increases are likely to return in coming years, as current estimations show that NFIP policies are being given at approximately half of the market rate. However, there are still ways communities can use the NFIP to their full advantage while bolstering against future price increases and preparing for flood disasters.   Continue reading

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