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
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
In order to better understand the stormwater finance and governance landscape, the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently inventoried and analyzed the stormwater fees used by 74 municipalities and three counties charging stormwater utility fees across North Carolina . These fees are used to fund programs and activities that improve surface water quality, help meet regulatory requirements, and address a variety of critical stormwater and drainage management needs. Before a deep dive into North Carolina stormwater fees, we’ve provided a review of some relevant terminology: Continue reading
Stormwater incentive programs are a creative tool used by some towns and cities to encourage community participation in stormwater management practices. Many of the incentive programs encourage citizens to install green stormwater infrastructure projects on their property. Stormwater ‘incentive’ programs can be found in municipalities across the United States and can take on a variety of formats; rebates, grants, cost sharing, and loans are some of the most popular methods. These programs usually offer incentives for both commercial and residential property owners, and they encourage projects like rain gardens, cisterns, rain barrels, green roofs, bioswales, permeable pavers, and native tree plantings.
Projects like this help improve the water quality of impacted water bodies by preventing pollutants from entering waterways and mitigating flooding problems in impacted areas. While the benefit of using these practices is substantial, offering financial incentives tends to boost interest from property owners to participate in such programs. Continue reading
Guest post by Reed Perry, a Master of Environmental Management candidate at the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment.
A $25 million dollar Environmental Impact Bond (EIB) issued by DC Water last year has captured the attention of environmental groups, investment firms, and policymakers alike. The nation’s first of its kind, this bond was announced in September 2016 and was followed by a buzz of excitement and inquiry. But what exactly is an EIB, and how plausible is its application for your organization’s project? Continue reading