Flood Hazard Mitigation

Planning and Local Technical Assistance

The Ulster County Department of Environment has been providing technical assistance on environmental issues to local municipalities since its inception in 2009. In 2014, on the heels of a series of flood events, the Department of Environment expanded its focus by hiring an Environmental Planner dedicated to working on flood hazard mitigation in the portions of the County with the highest flood risk. Since that time, a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) has been on staff to assist component municipalities and other County departments in planning, project implementation, education/training, grant-writing, and offering technical assistance. The purpose of this work is to help build community resiliency before the next flood disaster, as well as providing hands-on support for local communities and County officials to better respond after the next flooding event.  

This expanded focus is a result of a partnership between the County Department of Environment and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County. The position fills a need identified by Ulster County and the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program, particularly after the flooding associated with tropical storm Irene. Ulster County is now better equipped to provide coordination back to other County Departments, but also to better direct assistance and resources to some of its most flood-vulnerable townships (primarily Denning, Hardenburgh, Olive, Shandaken and Woodstock). 

In the face of a changing climate, perhaps now more than ever, there are opportunities and incentives for both County government and local municipalities to begin to take actions that will reduce flood risk and vulnerability in the future. With additional support from Ulster County, we hope that at-risk communities will be more capable of doing preemptive planning, be able to better access necessary funding, and may be more willing to implement mitigation measures, so as to reduce the devastating effects in future flood events.    

The Ulster County Department of Environment is committed to helping our under-staffed and often under-equipped rural towns and villages elevate potential flood mitigation projects and actions to the County, State, and Federal levels. Staff continue to work hand-in-hand with communities to include flood hazard mitigation projects in the 2017 update to the Ulster County Multijurisdictional All-Hazard Mitigation Plan. Additionally, the County is taking steps to integrate resiliency work, associated with the changing climate into not only flood hazard mitigation efforts, but throughout all of the County's projects and plans going forward.  

Staff worked alongside the communities involved in the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program to identify, propose, and now implement mitigation projects in their communities. Staff have also been trained in and prepared to assist communities interested in applying for FEMA’s suite of Hazard Mitigation Assistance programs. These include not only the post-disaster Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, but the Building Resilient Infrastructure Communities (BRIC), and Flood Mitigation Assistance programs as well. Communities that have participated in the 2017 Ulster County Multijurisdictional All-Hazard Mitigation Plan process are eligible to receive this FEMA funding. 

For the communities located in the New York City water supply watershed, additional flood hazard mitigation funding is available. The City of New York has allocated more than $30M for flood hazard mitigation programming, inclusive of both planning (such as conducting Local Flood Analyses in population centers), and implementation, (such as voluntary flood buyout/relocations, elevations, floodplain reclamations, for at-risk critical facilities, businesses, and residences). These are some examples of a growing list of locally-specific funding opportunities for community resiliency projects available through partners such as the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program, the Rondout-Neversink Stream Program, and the Catskill Watershed Corporation

Department of Environmental staff continue to play a critical role in educating local officials about not only these opportunities, but also in compiling and producing necessary data, providing technical assistance upon request, and being available to assist local municipalities and residents in the grant application, planning, and implementation processes.





New York State

  • NYSDEC’s Floodplain Management Office  - Floodplain construction requirements, flood insurance questions, how to reduce flood damage, etc.
  • NYS Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA) - CRRA includes five major provisions: 1. DEC Must adopt science-based sea-level rise projections into regulation; Applicants for permits or funding in a number of specified programs must demonstrate that future physical climate risk have been considered; 3. Mitigation of risk due climate change must now be included on the list of smart-growth criteria to be considered by state public infrastructure agencies; 4. DEC, in consultation with the Department of State (DOS), must develop guidance on the use of natural resources and natural processes to enhance community resiliency; 5. DOS, in cooperation with DEC, must develop model local laws that include consideration of future risk due to sea-level rise, storm surge and/or flooding. 
  • NYS Flood Risk Management Guidance (August 2020) for Implementation of CRRA - This document provides guidance to state agencies on consideration of flooding risk by applicants for projects involving new and substantially improved structures or repair of substantially damaged structures as well as guidance for local municipalities in mitigating the effects of climate change with respect to sea level rise, storm surges, and riverine flooding. 
  • NYS Flood Risk Management Guidance - ESTIMATING GUIDELINE ELEVATIONS - A key factor in designing for resilience to future floods is establishing an appropriate guideline elevation. The guideline elevation indicates the water surface elevation to be considered in project siting and design. The Flood Risk Managment Guidance provides descriptions of guideline elevations appropriate to various types of structures in tidal and nontidal areas. These guideline elevations incorporate projections of future flooding based on climate science or are based on proxies for such projections. Eight methods for establishing one or more of the guideline elevations described in the guidance document are described in detail in this resource.
    1. Ulster County Communities – Village of Ellenville, Town of New Paltz, Village of New Paltz, Town of Olive, Town of Rochester, Town of Rosendale, Town of Saugerties, Village of Saugerties, Town of Wawarsing
    2. Town of Shandaken and Town of Hardenburgh