FEMA Warning to Wisconsin 01/26/12

This letter was sent to Wisconsin Assembly person Brett Hulsey explaining the Walker mining bill threat to Flood Plain Insurance in Wisconsin. There is speculation that if the attempt to mine in the Penokees and the Bad River Watershed FEMA may discontinue the FEMA contract with Wisconsin. The costs estimate range from $5,000,000 to $10,000,000 per county. Thursday, January 26. 2012. (The copy of this letter was received recently by SWE)

Thursday, January 26. 2012

RE: Impacts of WI Mining Bill on WI Flood Insurance Program

Dear Representative Hulsey.   

Thank you for bringing to our attention proposed Wisconsin legislation that would appear 

to exempt certain mining structures and activities from floodplain zoning requirements.    

      The National Flood Insurance Program, a Federal program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), generally requires as a condition for 

community participation that a community enact and enforce minimum floodplain 

management ordinances.  If a community agrees to participate, property owners in the 

community are eligible to purchase Federal flood insurance and the community remains 

eligible for certain types of disaster assistance from the Federal government.

     The NFIP does not allow certain kinds to development to be exempted from requirements.  In fact, mining is specifically listed as an example of development in the NFIP regulations contained in 44 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 59.1 which states: 

 “Development means any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate, including but not limited to buildings or other structures, mining, dredging, filling, grading, paving, excavation or drilling operations or storage of equipment or materials.” 

      A state statutory provision exempting mining operations from floodplain management regulations and permitting likely would result in communities not possessing the necessary land-use authority to participate in the NFIP.  Although state legislation that limits or prevents local community adoption or enforcement of the minimum floodplain management requirements is rare, FEMA has addressed similar issue, and if limitations are not remedied, FEMA is required to seek enforcement of the Federal requirements that includes suspension from the Program. 

      I hope this information is useful for you.  Should you have any further questions, please contact our Office of Intergovernmental Affairs at 202-646-3444.  

David Stearrett, CFM 

Chief, Floodplain Management Branch

Risk Reduction Division 

Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration 


Washington, DC 


Office 202-646-2953

Cell 202-306-9749