Largescale Acquisitions in Floodplain Management & Associated Ecosystem Services
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
3:45 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. EDT
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As part of the continuing effort to reduce flood risk, this project employed FEMA’s Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) methodology on eight project areas in New Jersey to study the cost-effectiveness of selected mitigation approaches. Primarily, the differences in acquiring multiple structures on contiguous land (“largescale acquisitions”) versus the more common approach of acquiring individual structures with favorable benefit-cost ratios (BCR) (“checkerboarding”) were investigated. Secondarily, this project investigated the implications of using national versus regional-specific ecosystem service benefit (ESB) values.
The project team sought to justify largescale acquisitions as more cost-effective given the anecdotal observation that it is generally more strategic for a larger community to acquire entire neighborhoods prone to flooding rather than utilizing the more selective checkerboarding approach. Although our results indicated that largescale acquisitions infrequently had higher BCRs than checkerboarding, it is worth noting that the scope of benefits considered in this study was limited to only structural, content, and environmental. Given the production of higher overall benefits to a community, even more so after the addition of social and economic benefits, we argue that largescale acquisitions should still be considered on a case-by-case basis with careful assessment.
This study also illustrated how different values for ESBs (e.g. X versus Y dollars per acre of forestland per year) can significantly impact overall BCA results. This finding highlighted the importance of using appropriate values when it comes to ESBs, and thus the need for more locally appropriate values. This is particularly important so that the same values are not used for geographic areas with vastly different ecosystem services, natural resources, and community values. Furthermore, it is recommended that State and Federal agencies work towards establishing common classification systems for ESBs to promote consistency within the BCA process and across those working in flood mitigation.
Bill Nechamen, email@example.com