Infrastructure and Building Standards
The siting of critical infrastructure, which is a vital component of a parish or community’s physical organizational structure and functioning, is a significant decision that can affect an area’s future resilience. Because infrastructural systems weave communities together through both physical assets and services provided, they are especially critical components to consider in hazard mitigation and resilience planning.
Similarly, building codes and standards are key tools that also shape the fabric of the built environment and provide opportunities for communities to become more resilient to flood risk. Building codes serve as a regulatory framework adopted by a parish or municipality that are then enacted at the individual structure scale. Ensuring that adopted building codes sufficiently support flood risk reduction goals and that they are consistently and uniformly enforced are important elements for successful implementation.
Below are CPRA’s recommendations to stakeholders for incorporating flood risk reduction principles into the enhancement of infrastructure and building standards:
Department of Transportation and Development:
Consider climate change impacts in the planning, design, and cost of infrastructure improvement projects (including roadways, water, wastewater, and utility systems); incorporate future environmental conditions and climate change when conducting cost benefit/cost-effectiveness analysis including impacts on operating and maintenance costs.
Increase resilience of building stock by updating building standards for high risk structures in the floodplain and continuing to provide resources for local implementation and enforcement; create a state wide standard process for building code enforcement; update building code standards to promote flood damage reduction by adopting ASCE-24-14 into the 2015 IRC; prevent the weakening of the code by deleting the state wide freeboard requirement; adopt higher regulatory standards such as increased freeboard, additional levels of protection for structures behind levees, or cumulative substantial damage tracking requirements.
Parish and Municipal Governments:
Increase resilience of building stock by strengthening building standards for high risk structures in the floodplain in accordance with ASCE 24-14, and increase enforcement of these standards; require more stringent development standards for new construction that require a Flood Insurance Study for neighborhoods under 50 structures and five acres or less; development, land use, and drainage projects should be considered on a watershed basis versus parish or community boundaries.
Residential and Commercial Development:
Encourage new construction that prioritizes disaster resilient design – focus on flood protection height, wind resistance, and green infrastructure that will ensure the sustainability of the community and tax base; avoid building slab-on-grade residential homes that require imported fill in flood prone areas, and instead use open, pier and beam foundations that will not adversely impact neighboring structures or communities downstream; subdivisions in the Special Flood Hazard Area should discourage imported fill to meet the base flood elevation, as it could change the surrounding hydrology and adversely affect existing building stock.