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District, Federal Officials to Develop Flood Protection Plan for Downtown, National Mall

Thursday, March 27, 2008
District, Federal Officials to Develop Flood Protection Plan for Downtown, National Mall

Washington, DC) Mayor Adrian M. Fenty on Wednesday announced the District will commit $2.5 million for design and construction work to improve the 17th Street levee as a part of a larger partnership with federal officials to produce a flood protection plan for Central Washington and the District.

“We’re taking immediate action to reduce the health and safety risk to the citizens, businesses, structures and institutions in the District,” said Mayor Fenty. “And it is critically important that we move through this process in lockstep with our federal partners.”

In the next 30 days, District and federal agencies including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Capital Planning Commission, the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Park Service will have in place a strategy to complete needed improvements of the 17th Street levee.

In a recent letter to the District, FEMA said it would delay implementation of a Flood Insurance Rate Map, which would have required many private property owners to purchase mandatory flood insurance. FEMA also suspended the requirement that the District implement interim building codes of the National Flood Insurance Program.

“This is very good news,” said Harriet Tregoning, Director of the Office of Planning. “We were very concerned that new floodplain boundaries in the District of Columbia -- which would only be temporary while levee upgrades are being made -- would have resulted in permanent and unrecoverable costs to federal agencies and private property owners and caused a loss of the type of street-level development that is part of the unique urban character of Central Washington.”

The District will allocate $2.5 million in funds for the required design and construction of improvements to the levee system, in a process expected to last 15 months. Officials from the District Department of the Environment, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and the Office of Planning will work with federal officials to develop a project schedule and timeline for this effort. The National Capital Planning Commission and the Commission on Fine Arts have pledged to work with the District throughout the process.

“NCPC is committed to working closely with the District and other federal and local stakeholders to quickly identify an appropriate solution to the overbank and interior flooding issues in the city,” said NCPC Chairman John V. Cogbill, III.