City of Binghamton, New York

City of Binghamton Begins FEMA Floodwall Certification Project

1/09/2020

(BINGHAMTON, N.Y.) — Mayor Richard C. David on Thursday joined officials from Tetra Tech engineering firm to discuss details of the City’s comprehensive floodwall and levee certification initiative.

“Floodwall and levee certification is a critical step in protecting residents across the City against mandatory and expensive flood insurance,” said Mayor David. “Binghamton is the first municipality in Broome County to advance this type of project. Over multiple years, we’ve been proactive in budgeting funds and working with federal agencies to get to this point.”

If Binghamton certifies its system of 6.7 miles of levees and floodwalls meets Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) levee certification requirements, FEMA will accredit the levees and new flood insurance maps will show them as providing adequate protection.

Uncertified levees wouldn’t be recognized on these new maps, meaning the areas behind them would be labeled as high-risk — kicking in mandatory and expensive flood insurance for homeowners with any federally backed or regulated mortgage.

With the completion of preliminary reports in 2019 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and FEMA, the City has contracted with Tetra Tech, an experienced engineering firm that has completed more than 50 FEMA levee certifications, including for the Village of Nichols in Tioga County.

“While we couldn’t begin this project until preliminary reports were complete, the City was proactive in setting aside funding in a reserve account,” said Mayor David. “It’s good for residents to know that Binghamton is the first local municipality to lead these certification efforts.”

Tetra Tech will review existing data on river levels, drainage, closures and surveys and perform structural and geotechnical evaluations of the City of Binghamton’s levee and floodwall system.

For floodwall and levee segments that can be certified, Tetra Tech will prepare certification documentation to be submitted to FEMA. If a floodwall and levee segment cannot be certified, Tetra Tech will identify preliminary design and construction costs — as well as identify funding sources — to achieve certification.

“We enjoy working with the City of Binghamton and partnering with them on their proactive approach to Levee Certification,” said David Moore, Tetra Tech’s project manager. “The Binghamton Floodwall and Levee System is complex and comprised of numerous elements that have to be considered individually as part of the entire flood risk reduction system. We have found that a phased approach to the FEMA Levee Certification process is the most effective way to manage these larger, more complex systems.”

The first phase of the project will cost $183,529, approved by Binghamton City Council at an October 2019 meeting.

The 2011 flood damaged 7,000 properties in Broome County. 2,300 were located in the City of Binghamton — more properties than any other municipality. 

— 30 —