Proposed Rule – Natural Disaster Procedures: Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Activities of the Corps of Engineers

Natural Disaster Procedures: Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Activities of the Corps of Engineers

Notice number: 2022-24543
Date: Comments must be received on or before January 17, 2023

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), Department of Defense (DoD). 

Proposed rule. 

The Corps is proposing to revise its natural disaster procedures under this part of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which implements a section of the Flood Control Act of 1941, as amended. Revisions will incorporate advances in risk-informed decision-making approaches and disaster response lessons learned, as well as recent amendments to this section of the Flood Control Act of 1941. 

Comments must be received on or before January 17, 2023. 

You may submit comments, identified by docket number COE-2021-0008, using any of these methods:

  1. Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  2. Email:33CFR203@usace.army.mil and include the docket number, COE-2021-0008, in the subject line of the message.
  3. Mail: HQ, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ATTN: 33CFR203/CECW-HS/3D64, 441 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20314-1000.
  4. Hand Delivery/Courier: Due to security requirements, we cannot receive comments by hand delivery or courier.

Instructions: Direct your comments to docket number COE-2021-0008. The public docket will include all comments exactly as submitted and without change and may be made available on-line at http://www.regulations.gov. This will include any personal information provided, unless the commenter indicates that the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information where disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI, or otherwise protected, through regulations.gov or email. The regulations.gov website is an anonymous access system, which means we will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email directly to the Corps without going through regulations.gov, your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment placed in the public docket and made available on the internet. If you submit an electronic comment, we recommend that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If we cannot read your comment because of technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, we may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic comments should avoid the use of any special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses.

Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov. All documents in the docket are listed. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, such as CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the internet and will be publicly available only in hard copy form. 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mr. Willem H.A. Helms, Office of Homeland Security, Directorate of Civil Works, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at (202) 761-5909 or willem.h.helms@usace.army.mil.

Summary: The Corps is proposing to repeal and replace part 203. In this selected alternative, the Corps proposes to incorporate and integrate the current state of the practice of flood risk management principles and concepts through the provision of agency policy codified in a federal rule. The intended benefit is to encourage broader community flood risk management activities by non-Federal project sponsors specific to the flood risk management projects they operate and maintain and in coordination with the applicable communities. This rule alternative also consolidates recent Public Law 84-99 amendments into one comprehensive rule, ensuring the public has a clear understanding of the responsibilities and requirements.

Need for Revision

This rule includes a proposed change in the focus of the Rehabilitation Program. The eligibility of a levee system for consideration for rehabilitation assistance after a flood was once based only on inspections conducted by the Corps. More recently, the Public Law 84-99 program has been transitioning to risk-informed eligibility determinations for projects, which are based on an evaluation of the non-Federal sponsor's overall risk management activities, including information developed through inspections. Additional changes are also proposed to effectively implement recent amendments to Public Law 84-99.

Since the last revision in 2003, significant disasters, including Hurricane Katrina (2005), Hurricane Sandy (2012), flooding on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers (2008, 2011, and 2013), and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria (2017) have provided a more detailed understanding of the nature and severity of the risks associated with coastal storms and floods. These significant events provided information regarding project performance and the effects of climate change that the Corps has considered when formulating this rule update.

Additionally, the maturation of risk-informed decision-making approaches and technological advancements from a purely standards-based perspective has influenced the outlook on how Public Law 84-99 activities should be implemented, with a shift towards better alignment with the Corps Levee Safety and National Flood Risk Management Programs. Risk-informed decision making uses an iterative process to reduce risk over time by identifying the areas of acceptable risk, monitoring the acceptable risk, and then devoting resources to manage the sources of unacceptable risk in priority order. The process begins by capturing activities and efforts within three overarching categories: risk assessment, risk management, and risk communications. Through this process, the Corps and non-Federal sponsors assess the flood risk to property, infrastructure, public safety, and the environment; and seek to reduce that risk in stages by addressing the highest priority flood risk management deficiencies first, and by working with elected officials and other risk managers to identify other priority areas for investment.

Proposed changes can be viewed in the full Federal Register notice here: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-24543