Civil Works


Flood Plain Management Overview


People who live and work in the flood plain need to know about the flood hazard and the actions they can take to reduce property damage and prevent the loss of life caused by flooding. The FPMS Program was developed by the Corps of Engineers specifically to address this need. The program’s authority stems from Section 206 of the 1960 Flood Control Act (PL 86-645), as amended. Its objective is to foster public understanding of the options for dealing with flood hazards and promote prudent use and management of the Nation’s flood plains.

The Corps of Engineers may help resolve water resource problems for, and provide technical assistance to, states, Indian Nations and Tribes, environmental organizations and local governments. The Corps of Engineers also provides assistance to these groups when preparing plans and initiating actions to manage water and related land resource issues themselves. This section includes an overview of the Corps of Engineers programs with special emphasis to those programs which can help address Flood Plain Management issues and concerns.

Included is information on project criteria and project process with explanations about what these programs can do. Instructions are provided to request assistance.

Cost Share: Federal/Non-Federal

100% Federal for eligible entities, with  exceptions.

Federal Project Limit

      Typically less than $200,000.                            

Final Design/Construction Costs

The program does not give Corps the authority to complete detailed final designs or construction activities.


Flood Plain Management Program

Authority, Objective, and Scope
The program's authority stems from Section 206 of the 1960 Flood Control Act (PL 86-645), as amended, authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide technical assistance to identify the magnitude of flood hazards and plan for wise use of floodplains.  FPMS Program Principles are as follows:

1.            Provide technical assistance that is focused on reducing flood risk

2.            Development of guides, pamphlets, brochures for education of flood risk

3.            Proper use of the flood plains both coastal and riverine

4.            Support of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

Land use adjustments based on proper planning and the employment of techniques for controlling and reducing flood damages provide a rational way to balance the advantages and disadvantages of human settlement on flood plains. These adjustments are the key to sound flood plain management.

Types of Assistance
The FPMS Program provides the full range of technical services and planning guidance that is needed to support effective flood plain management.

General Technical Services. Authorizes USACE to develop and interpret site-specific data on obstructions to flood flows, flood formation and timing; and the extent, duration, and frequency of flooding. It also can provide information, such as materials or publications, on natural and cultural flood plain resources of note, and flood loss potentials before and after the use of flood plain management measures.

General Planning Guidance. On a larger scale, the program authorizes USACE to provide assistance and guidance the form of "Special Studies" on all aspects of flood plain management planning including the possible impacts of off-flood plain land use changes on the physical, socio-economic, and environmental conditions of the flood plain. This can range from helping a community identify present or future flood plain areas and related problems, to a broad assessment of which of the various remedial measures may be effectively used.

Some of the most common types of Special Studies include:

  • Flood Plain Delineation/Flood Hazard Evaluation Studies
  • Dam Break Analysis Studies
  • Flood Warning/Preparedness Studies
  • Regulatory Floodway Studies
  • Comprehensive Flood Plain Management Studies
  • Flood Damage Reduction Studies
  • Urbanization Impact Studies
  • Stormwater Management Studies
  • Flood Proofing Studies
  • Inventory of Flood Prone Structures

The program also can provide guidance and assistance for meeting standards of the National Flood Insurance Program and for conducting workshops and seminars on non-structural flood plain management measures, such as Flood Proofing.

FPMS Interagency Nonstructural Efforts. A subset of the FPMS program which emphasizes interagency partnerships while working collaboratively on projects which seek to reduce flood risk through nonstructural means. The efforts reduce the consequences of flooding to life and property instead of altering the nature of the flood hazard itself. Efforts are typically identified by the state Silver Jackets Team lead and scoped out in collaboration with the state Silver Jackets team (New York Silver Jackets, OH Silver Jackets, PA Silver Jackets).

Study Process. The process for FPMS assistance begins after a state, regional, local government, or Native American Indian tribe requests U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assistance under the program. When funding is available, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will work with the requesting organization to develop a scope of work and assemble the appropriate study team for the effort being requested. At their option, the requesting organization may provide voluntary contributions toward the requested services to expand the scope or accelerate the provision of those services.

How to Request Assistance
Agencies, governments, organizations, and individuals interested in flood-related information or assistance can contact the Buffalo District Senior Floodplain Manager at 716-879-4407 or Buffalo District Floodplain Management Program (FPMS) Program Manager at 716-327-8677​.  A letter request is required for assistance that involves developing new data, making a map, or preparing a report. A sample request letter is provided below. Please copy and paste the sample letter and add to your letterhead.

Sample Request Letter for Flood Plain Management Services Assistance

US Army Corps of Engineers
Buffalo District Floodplain Management Coordinator
478 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 

Dear Sir/Ma'am:

This is in reference to your Flood Plain Management Services Program. We understand that Section 206 of the Flood Control Act of 1960, as amended, authorizes the Corps of Engineers to help others mitigate flood losses. The [requesting agency or private entity] requests assistance for [body of water or waterway], located in [City or Township], in [County and State].

[Add brief paragraph describing problem or need].

Property descriptions, [site plans, maps and/or photographs] are enclosed. Upon your review of this initial request, we would like to discuss the availability of information, required schedule, and level of effort required (to negotiate the appropriate charge if applicable.) Please contact [Name, title, phone number] to arrange a further discussion of this request.

Signature of Cooperating Agency or Individual

Charges for Assistance
Upon request, program services are provided to State, regional, and local governments, Indian Tribes, and other non-Federal public agencies without charge.

Program services also are offered to non-water resource Federal agencies and to the private sector on a 100% cost recovery basis. For most of these requests, payment is required before services are provided. A schedule of charges is used to recover the cost of services taking up to one day to provide. Letter requests or signed agreements are used to charge for those that take longer.

All requestors are encouraged to furnish available field survey data, maps, historical flood information and the like, to help reduce the cost of services. 

Planning Assistance to States

Cost Share: Federal/Non-Federal Federal Project Limit
         50% / 50%                                                       $500,000


Authority and Scope. Section 22 of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1974, as amended, authorizes the Planning Assistances to States (PAS) Program. The PAS Program allows the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to provide planning assistance for the development, utilization, and conservation of water and related land resources. The PAS Program allows the Corps to partner with states, groups of states, Federally-recognized territories or tribes, local governments, and other non-federal entities. Under this program, the Corps offers two types of planning assistance: comprehensive water resources planning or technical assistance. All assistance is limited to planning, and studies conducted under the PAS Program cannot include detailed design for construction. 

Types of Assistance.  Under the PAS Program, the Corps can provide one of two types of assistance:  Comprehensive Water Resources Planning or Technical Assistance.  Comprehensive Water Resources Planning includes planning for the development, utilization, and conservation of water and water-related resources of drainage basins, watersheds, or ecosystems located within the boundaries of that state(s).  Technical Assistance includes technical support of planning efforts related to the management of state water resources.  Additional information about these types of assistance is provided in the Program Fact Sheet.

Funding. The Planning Assistance to States (PAS) Program is funded annually by Congress. More than one study may be conducted per State or Tribe per year, but no more than $5 million in Federal funds for PAS comprehensive planning efforts may be expended in a state per fiscal year.  Individual studies generally cost $25,000 to $200,000. These studies are cost shared on a 50 percent federal, 50 percent non-federal basis.  In-kind contributions may be accepted to meet cost share requirements for Comprehensive Water Resource Planning studies, but in-kind services cannot be used for Technical Assistance studies.
Typical Studies. The program can encompass many types of studies related to water resources.  Example studies conducted under the PAS authority include the following:

  • Water supply and demand studies
  • Water quality studies
  • Environmental conversation or restoration studies
  • Wetland evaluation studies
  • Dam safety/failure studies
  • Flood damage reduction studies
  • Floodplain management studies
  • Coastal zone management or protection studies
  • Harbor or port studies

How to Request Assistance. Eligible sponsors interested in obtaining planning assistance under this program may contact the appropriate Corps of Engineers office for further details.  Contact information for the Buffalo District Planning Assistance to States Program Manager is provided below.  To initiate scoping activities, the Corps of Engineers must receive a Letter of Intent from an eligible nonfederal sponsor.  Sample letters of intent are provided in the Program Fact Sheet.  The Corps of Engineers will coordinate all requests for assistance with the appropriate state or Tribal coordinator to ensure that studies are initiated in support of state or Tribal water resource management needs.

Buffalo District Planning Assistance to States (PAS) Program Manager: 216-598-3463

Buffalo District Floodplain Management Program (FPMS) Program Manager: 716-327-8677