$1.7M Watershed Planning Initiative

Adapted Press Release:

The Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM)’s Bureau of Mitigation prioritizes flood risk management as a means to protect people and property during flood events. To accomplish this goal, DEM is laying the foundation for its Watershed Planning Initiative by working on a pilot project with Florida Atlantic University (FAU) College of Engineering and Computer Science. The multi-disciplinary FAU team includes Dr. Diana Mitsova, from the School of Urban and Regional Planning; Anthony Abbate and Jeff Huber, from the School of Architecture, as well as others including team leader Dr. Frederick Bloetscher, Professor and Associate Dean of the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

DEM has received funding from FEMA to encourage communities to become a part of their community rating system program. To help encourage participation, DEM has contracted with the Florida Atlantic University College of Engineering and Computer Science through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) DR-4337-004-P, to create a template for completion of Watershed Master Plans (WMP) throughout the state of Florida over the next year.

To start the process, FAU will conduct research to determine where the gaps in watershed data across the state. FAU’s Center for Environmental Studies will collect plans that currently exist and creating a catalog of these plans. They are also creating a best-practices document when it comes to developing watershed management plans.

FAU is also creating a screening tool to identify the areas across the state that are the most susceptible to flooding. This part of the project includes researchers in the Departments of Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering, Urban and Regional Planning and Geosciences.

The next step will be to use the data generated from the screening tool and the gathering of current plans and policies and create a guidance document for others to implement the tool and will create data for others to use in developing their plans. The ultimate goal for the initiative is to develop watershed master plans for the entire state. In doing so, the state hopes these plans will be integrated into floodplain management and Local Mitigation Strategies throughout Florida along with helping those communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.

The initiative is funded partially by the federal government through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and partially from the State of Florida. The pilot project is scheduled to conclude in September 2020 and will ultimately produce two prototype watershed master plans for the state of Florida. The entire initiative is projected to take three years and the next step will be to take the pilot program’s results and apply them statewide.