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Flood Recovery and Resiliency

Flood Recovery and Resiliency

map of proposed and completed priority watersheds

In November 2018, New York State launched the Resilient NY program. The overall goal of the program is to improve community resiliency to extreme weather events that result in flooding and ice jam formations.

The Resilient NY program will develop state-of-the-art studies to reduce flooding and ice jam formations, and improve riparian ecology on 48 high-priority flood-prone watersheds throughout New York State. The program will employ advanced modeling techniques and field assessments to identify priority projects and actions to reduce community flood and ice jam risks, while also improving habitat. These studies will give communities a blueprint or path forward to abate the worst effects of future flooding.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Office of General Services (OGS) will implement the studies as part of the Resilient NY program. High-priority watersheds were selected based on several factors, such as frequency and severity of flooding and ice jam formations, extent of previous flood damage, and susceptibility to future events from occurring.

The Resilient NY studies will identify the causes of flooding within each watershed, and develop, evaluate, and recommend effective and ecologically sustainable flood and ice jam hazard-mitigation projects. Proposed flood mitigation projects will be identified and evaluated using hydrologic and hydraulic modeling to quantitatively determine which proposed recommendations will likely result in the greatest flood reduction benefits. In addition, the flood resiliency studies will incorporate the latest climate change forecasts and assess ice jam hazards where they have been identified as a threat to public health and safety.


A total of $3 million has been committed to the Resilient NY initiative. This funding is primarily through the State's Environmental Protection Fund, and will support the flood resiliency studies, which will build on the Governor's NY Rising Community Reconstruction Initiative and the 13 prior flood resiliency studies completed in the aftermath of the Central New York flooding in July 2013.

Resilient NY Flood and Ice Jam Study Process

map of NY watersheds

DEC and OGS have retained two nationally recognized environmental consulting firms to prepare the Resilient NY studies. The consultants will work with DEC experts, municipalities, and interested stakeholders to collect relevant information about flooding and ice jam formations in each priority watershed, and use this information to develop specific mitigation projects and actions. The Resilient NY study process is outlined below:

Task 1 - Outreach

Conduct local outreach meetings with stakeholders in the study area to gather information, data, and mapping regarding flood history, property damages, and anecdotal information on high water levels, and to characterize flood hazards and recovery efforts. Stakeholders generally include state and county agencies, local municipal officials, departments of public works, county soil and water conservation districts, watershed groups, and other interested stakeholders.

Task 2 - Data Collection

  • The consultants will research and gather relevant data on the history and causes of flooding and ice jam formations in each watershed. This information will include:
    • Mapping, including aerial photographs, Geographic Information System (GIS) data, topographic maps, and LiDAR mapping available from the NYS GIS Clearinghouse;
    • Flood and ice jam reports and photographs available from localities and counties, or available through a web search;
    • Gauge data and ice monitoring reports available from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS);
    • Precipitation data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service;
    • Ice jam reports from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL);
    • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Insurance Studies;
    • FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM);
    • Hydrologic Engineering Center-River Analysis System (HEC-RAS) or HEC-2 FEMA hydraulic models, if available;
    • Base Level Engineering (BLE) data, if available;
    • Structures identified by FEMA as Repetitive Loss and Severe Repetitive Loss;
    • USGS Future Flow Explorer v1.5 or other accepted climate change modeling applicable to New York State; and
    • NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) and county DPW bridge inspection reports.
    • Conduct a rapid river corridor and watershed inspection, with limited ground inspection, to identify problem areas and flood and ice jam hazards. In areas of known or suspected flooding and ice jamming, ground inspection will be undertaken to inspect the watercourses and to identify likely natural and anthropogenic issues that may be contributing to flooding and ice jamming. Field staff will compile field notes and photographs to document the findings.
    • Characterize fluvial features affecting flood and ice jam hazard areas, including key cross sections, channel bends, flow constrictions, changes in valley confinement, large wood-buildup areas, excess sedimentation areas, major bank failures, floodplain encroachments, channel straightening, dredging, channel incision, and aggradation.
    • Coordinate with a survey subconsultant to conduct "wet section" and overbank surveys at selected locations along the stream channels to develop new modeling for those flood-prone areas where FEMA modeling or modeling from other sources is not available. A cross-section survey will include "in channel" and overbank areas sufficient to tie into new LiDAR topographic mapping

Task 3 - Flood Mitigation Analysis

  • Undertake a hydrologic assessment for a range of design flows at various points within the watershed. This assessment will consider FEMA Flood Insurance Study data, regional regression equations, USGS stream gauging data, and USGS Future Flow Explorer v1.5. Discrete watershed areas will be delineated, and peak flow rates predicted over a range of statistical frequencies. These values will be compared to FEMA's analyses and calculated flows.
    • Obtain the most recent available FEMA model (effective model) from DEC.
    • Using survey data, develop new hydraulic modeling for problem areas and flood and ice jam hazards.
    • Evaluate a range of options regarding mitigation of floods and ice jam impacts for each of the identified sites. Provide short-term and long-term recommendations for proposed physical and operational improvements, listed according to their relative merits and cost-benefits. The evaluation may include the following:
      • Modifications to the channel, such as restoration of form or process;
      • Modifications within the river corridor;
      • Modification or replacement of culverts or bridges;
      • Removal or relocation of structures, buildings, walls, or channel encroachments;
      • Floodplain enhancement, restoration, or creation;
      • Flood bench creation;
      • Creation of floodplain wetlands, pools, and ponds;
      • Floodwater attenuation/storage;
      • Dam modification or removal;
      • Construction or enhancement of levees, dikes, and berms;
      • Sediment/debris management;
      • Buyouts or relocations;
      • A public education program;
      • Establishment of policy and buffer zones consistent with the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System (NFIP CRS); and
      • Combinations of the above.
    • Some of the above alternatives will be evaluated using HEC-RAS modeling to determine whether the alternative results in a reduction in flood depth and the lateral extent of flooding. Modeling results will be conveyed using depth grid mapping, which allows viewers to easily understand the flood reduction benefits of each alternative. The project team will recommend which of the flood mitigation alternatives would result in the greatest reduction in flooding, based on sound engineering assumptions. A list of recommended projects or types of projects will be developed, and each alternative will be evaluated against the following project objectives:
      • Flood risk reduction,
      • Erosion risk reduction,
      • Ice jam risk reduction,
      • Habitat improvement,
      • Water quality improvement,
      • Regulatory permitting feasibility,
      • Project constructability,
      • Implementation cost, and
      • Future maintenance requirements.

Task 4 - Reporting

  • Develop a draft report to summarize field investigations and flood mitigation recommendations. The draft report will include documentation of stream and structure assessment, hydrology, and HEC-RAS model and associated backup data. Potential mitigation projects will be presented along with a recommended implementation plan. Planning level cost opinions and potential funding opportunities will be evaluated and presented in this draft report.
    • Provide a draft report to stakeholder groups for their review.
    • Reconvene stakeholder groups to discuss the draft report and solicit comments
    • Based on comments received, revise the draft report and issue a final flood and ice jam study.

Resilient NY Watersheds

Resilient NY Watersheds
County Watershed
Cattaraugus Grannis Creek
Chautauqua Silver Creek
Chautauqua Walnut Creek
Chautauqua Canadaway Creek
Chautauqua Crooked Brook
Erie Ellicott Creek
Erie Ransom Creek
Erie Gott Creek
Erie Buffalo Creek
Erie Cazenovia Creek
Erie Cayuga Creek
Erie Eighteenmile Creek
Erie Connoisarauley Creek/Cattaraugus Creek
Niagara Cayuga Creek
Niagara Eighteenmile Creek
Niagara Donner Creek
Niagara/Wyoming Tonawanda Creek
Wyoming Cattaraugus Creek/Clear Creek
Madison Chittenango Creek
Madison Oneida Creek
Monroe Irondequoit Creek
Onondaga Butternut Creek
Ontario Honeoye Creek
Oneida Fish Creek
Essex Ausable River (East and West Branches)
Essex Boquet River
Washington Mettawee River
Washington Indian River
Clinton Great Chazy River
Clinton Little Chazy River
Oneida, Herkimer, Montgomery, Schenectady, Albany, and Saratoga Entire main stem of Mohawk River
Delaware East Branch of Delaware River, below reservoir
Delaware Delaware West Branch of Delaware River, below reservoir
Warren Hudson River within the Town of Thurman (ice jam)
Rockland Sparkill Creek
Rockland Minnisceongo Creek
Rockland Hackensack River
Rockland Mahwah River
Rockland Ramapo River
Rockland Saddle River
Dutchess Wappinger Creek
Dutchess/Columbia Roeliff Jansen Kill
Ulster Main Street Brook
Greene Catskill Creek
Columbia/Rensselaer Stockport Creek
Franklin Salmon River - Town of Fort Covington (ice jam)
Otsego Butternut Creek
Otsego Cherry Valley Creek
Otsego Otego Creek
Tioga Rock Creek

Current Status of Resilient NY program

Studies completed to date:

Studies underway to date:

  • Ausable River
  • Beaver Swamp Brook
  • Boquet River
  • Catskill Creek
  • Main stem of Mohawk River
  • Mamaroneck and Sheldrake Rivers
  • Salmon River

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    Albany, NY 12233
    Attn: Resilient NY Program
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