Step 4: Choose Your Community’s Solutions

Decision-makers engaged in a transparent analysis of all possible solutions to address flooding and stormwater challenges will be on the path to selecting a suite of strategies suitable for your community’s unique conditions, priorities, visions, and goals. Assessing various alternative scenarios may also help your community respond to unexpected situations that may arise during project implementation by providing readily available alternatives. 

To put your community on this path, Navigate the Flood Step 4 offers a series of example flood and stormwater management solutions ranging from conventional options such as levees and floodwalls to nature-based solutions that harness natural processes such as stream restoration and green stormwater infrastructure. This step also identifies criteria technical staff can apply to each potential solution to inform objective evaluation and selection. Among these evaluation criteria are “triple-bottom line” considerations, i.e., social, economic and environmental considerations. Explore Subsections (a)-(f) below to take Step 4 towards navigating the flood. Each Subsection includes case studies and technical and financial resources that will help you choose your community’s flood and stormwater management solutions.

Completing Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, and Step 4 means your community is ready to get to work and build sustainable, resilient, and equitable flood and stormwater systems. See more on implementing your plan at Step 5.

(a) Evaluate various possible solutions or a combination of solutions for flooding challenges (short list).

  • Dams, reservoirs
  • Dikes, levees, floodwalls
  • Stream channel alterations/restorations
  • High-flow diversions and spillways
  • Land treatment
  • Onsite detention
  • Coastal protection measure
  • Upstream Buffers
  • Open space preservation and land conservation



(b) Evaluate various possible solutions or a combination of solutions for the impact(s) of flooding on the community (short list).

  • Floodplain regulations
  • Development and redevelopment of policies
  • Disaster preparedness, assistance, and recovery
  • “Floodproofing” 
  • Flood forecasting and warning/emergency plans
  • Information and education 
  • Flood insurance 
  • Tax adjustments 
  • Post-flood recovery
  • Build trust, contemplate relocation 
  • Raise utilities out of basements 
  • Consider the danger of “no act alternative”  
  • Possible relocation of assets



(c) Evaluate various possible solutions or a combination of solutions for stormwater runoff and its impact(s) on the community (short list).

  • Green stormwater infrastructure
  • Grey infrastructure improvements/replacements
  • Open space preservation and land conservation
  • Construction and retrofits 
  • Community projects
  • Conservative agriculture practices
  • Stormwater regulations via municipal stormwater systems    
    • Ensure public health considerations are at the forefront of decision making 
    • Reduction of impervious surfaces at the city and individual household level
    • Reduction of rooftop runoff via redirection of downspouts to vegetated areas

Case Study


(d) Focus on environmental, social, and economic ("Triple Bottom Line") criteria and whether various solutions meet a regulatory endpoint.

  • Consider the full life-cycle of proposed solution, including the cost of implementation 
  • Consider additional technical and operational criteria
    • Reliability
    • Maintainability
    • Accessibility 
    • Public Acceptance
  • Consider compliance as a floor not a ceiling 
    • Strive to maximize environmental and social benefits while minimizing costs

Case Study


(e) Conduct a cost benefit analysis for top solutions, evaluate the alternative solutions against any additional criteria (4d), and determine the best solution (or set of solutions) based on alternatives analysis.

  • Alternative analysis conducted by the responsible entity, community members, and/or other stakeholders
    • Rank the importance of goals established in Step 3 and acknowledge associated metrics to measure achievement of such goals and scale those metrics
    • Evaluate alternative solutions established in Step 4 (a-c), while considering Step 4d
    • Determine the best solution
    • Clearly communicate the best solution, as well as the process of arriving at the chosen solution, to the rest of the community


(f) Develop a strategic (and/or master) plan that is flexible and remains current.

  • Combine efforts (data/document compilation/analysis and goal development, from steps 2 and 3 (a-b)) into a strategic plan  
  • Continue to revise as you begin to implement solutions
  • Build-in a mechanism to evaluate stakeholder feedback
  • Consider EPA standards for integrative planning and adaptive management

Case Study



All Step 4 Resources

The Growing Threat of Urban Flooding: A National Challenge | Texas A&M University, 2018

This resource provides information on the effects of floods across the United States.

Flood Funding Finder | American Flood Coalition, 2021

This resource serves as a free, interactive digital tool that simplifies the federal grant access process.

Know your Flood Risk and Take Action | FEMA, 2020

Learn how to Identify what properties are in the flood zone within your municipal boundary. Know your risk, know your role, and take action.

Subdivision Design and Flood Hazard Areas | APA, 2016

This resource serves to make the case for better flood management and highlights the value of an integrated community approach.

Atlas 14 Point Precipitation Frequency Estimates: KS | NOAA

This resource serves as a tool to obtain predictive information for your geographic area on precipitation depth and intensity.

Flood Factor | First Street Foundation

This resource serves as a tool to help residents identify their home's flood risk.

Flood Risk Templates and Other Resources | FEMA, 2019

This resource provides a variety of documents used to support the implementation of Flood Risk Projects. This is a "searchable resource."

Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) Grants | FEMA

Funds available for projects that reduce or eliminate the risk of repetitive flood damage to property insured by the National Flood Insurance Program.

Guidelines and Standards for Flood Risk Analysis and Mapping Activities Under the Risk MAP Program | FEMA, 2020

The guidelines and standards define the implementation details of the statutory and regulatory requirements for National Flood Insurance Program map.

Manage Floodplain Risk | FEMA

This resource provides information on how to meet the National Flood Insurance Program Requirements - the most affordable way to reduce flood risk.

National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies | NAFSMA

This resource includes two relevant committees: Stormwater Management Committee and Flood Management Committee.

Technical References for Flood Risk Analysis and Mapping | US EPA

This resource provides list of 8 technical references essential to the success of a program, yet are not considered to be standards.

Where can I find Flood Maps? | USGS

This resource breaks down the purpose of various flood maps developed by FEMA, NOAA, and USGS.

Green Infrastructure Strategic Action Plan | City of Atlanta, 2018

This plan provides recommended actions included within: policy, funding and planning, project implementation, partnering and outreach and analysis.

Etna Green Infrastructure Master Plan Demonstration Project | Buchart Horn, INC., 2014

This resource is an example Master to address stormwater runoff in Etna, PA.

A Guide to Assessing Green Infrastructure Costs and Benefits for Flood Reduction | NOAA, 2015

This resource provides a 6-step framework to inform planning assessments and prompt conversations regarding green infrastructure.

A Multi-Benefit Approach to Water Management | Pacific Institute, 2021

This resource explores how to develop solutions to flood and stormwater challenges through Multiple Benefits.

Enacting, Implementing & Funding Stormwater Programs | NACWA, 2016

This resource is a white paper that provides legal considerations for funding municipal stormwater programs.

Estimating the Value of Water: A Literature Review | US EPA, 2017

This resource provides insight into ecosystem service benefits and corresponding case studies.

Making the Right Choice for Your Utility: Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | US EPA, 2015

The purpose of this report is to provide a process for utilities to compare a range of infrastructure alternatives objectively via 4 planning elements

Toolbox for Completing an Alternatives Analysis as Part of an Integrated Planning Approach to Water Quality Compliance Research Investment | WERF, 2019

This tool is free to use, but in order to access it you will need to create a Public Plus account here: https://www.waterrf.org/user/register.

City of Tigard Stormwater Master Plan | 2017

The Plan addresses Tigard’s existing flooding, water quality, erosion, and maintenance issues, and provides several corresponding recommendations.

Integrated Planning for Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater | US EPA, 2021

This resource provides approaches and additional resources for planning and integration of Municipal Stormwater and Waste Water

Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants | FEMA

This resource provides funding for eligible mitigation measure that reduce disaster losses and currently has 5 grant programs.

The Water Center at Penn and WaterNow Alliance Flood and Stormwater Management Guide

With support from the Kresge Foundation

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