Legal Problems in Regulating Flood Hazard Areas

by Ernst Liebman, Asst. Gen. Counsel, Rates and Classifications; U.S. Postal Service, Washington, D.C.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Hydraulics Division, 1973, Vol. 99, Issue 11, Pg. 2113-2123

Document Type: Journal Paper


Effective flood plain management programs must appropriately combine structural and nonstructural measures. An effective nonstructural technique involves the placement of restrictions by legislative bodies upon private and public uses in flood hazard areas. Such restrictions prohibit obstructions in floodways and guide and restrict development in floodway fringe areas. The likelihood that flood hazard regulations will be more widely adopted has increased with the publication by the Water Resources Council of model statutes and ordinances for flood hazard reduction, the implementation of the federal flood insurance program, and the possibility of federal grants for land use planning. Even if such regulations are adopted, they must not conflict with legal and constitutional requirements of equal protection and due process of law. Courts have been reluctant to uphold severe restrictions on the use of a person's land when other economic uses are not possible or where the degree of hazard is small related to the severity of the restrictions imposed.

Subject Headings: Public health and safety | Legal affairs | Floods | Spillways | Hydrologic models | Water resources | Federal government | Land use

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