Hot Topics in Floodplain Management: Updates to the Community Rating System Manual and Biggert Waters Act

Date: August 14, 2013
Location: Biloxi, MS

Almost all of the coastal counties in Mississippi are part of the The National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System (CRS). CRS is a voluntary incentive program that encourages community floodplain management activities goes above the minimum NFIP requirements. In return, the community’s flood insurance premium rates are discounted. Recently, there have been changes to the CRS Manual which are changing the way the amount of points that are given for various activities.

Also related, the U.S. Congress recently passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12). This Act calls on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other agencies, to make a number of changes to the way the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is run and will result in premium rate increases for some policyholders over time.

Local floodplain managers had a lot of questions related to both the CRS Manual changes and BW-12, so Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve partnered with NOAA Coastal Services Center and Sea Grant to offer a workshop on August 14th, 2013 on these topics.

NFIP CRS Workshop Biloxi 004 Larissa 1Representatives from Federal Emergency Management Agency, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Insurance Services Office, and Sea Grant gave presentations to floodplain managers and agency staff from local communities on the following topics:

  • Recent changes to the Community Rating System (CRS) manual
  • Biggert Waters Act and what it means for premiums in local communities
  • Status of pending legislation associated with Biggert Waters Act


The participants were also led through an activity to address challenges that they faced in their jobs. They were asked to write down one or two ideas related to the question “What is the biggest challenge you encounter in your work related to BW and/or CRS manual changes?”  The workshop planners took all of the submitted ideas and developed three main challenges:

  • Translating the impacts of Biggert-Waters to the public in a clear and understandable way
  • Fully understand the impacts of Biggert Waters as floodplain managers and CRS Coordinators
  • Navigating changes to the new CRS manual (loss of points, conversion to PPI, basic information to apply CRS)

NFIP CRS Workshop Biloxi 019 tracie group 4Participants were then split up into three groups and each group spent 10 minutes in a facilitated discussion about each of the challenges. They were asked:

  • What are some ways to overcome the challenge?
  • What partners are needed?
  • What resources are available?


The workshop was very successful. Thirty-seven participants attended and, of the 22 that filled out the evaluation, 100% said that attending the workshop was a good use of their time and 91% said they learned something that they would apply in future decisions.

Many of the floodplain managers meet regularly and, during the group discussion, they were able to come up with many action items that they can continue to move forward with at their monthly meetings. The partners that organized the workshop are also discussing the potential for future activities based on the group discussions.

More resources:

Photos courtesy of Melissa Schneider from MS-AL Sea Grant.


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