Floodplains by Design (FbD)

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extent of analysis in Konrad 2015

"Floodplains by Design" describes both a regional initiative initially developed in Washington State by The Nature Conservancy and a state capital program being developed at Washington State Department of Ecology. TNC, Ecology and PSP are collaborating in development of a network of committees that work together towards reform of floodplain management, towards the integration of the goals of habitat restoration, farm economy development, and flood hazard reduction. A steering committee aims to define a trajectory toward shared work, and acts through three committees: 1) policy and funding, focused on legislative and agency systems, 2) culture and capacity, which aims to build information sharing among integrated local teams, and 3) monitoring and measurement, which aims to define share systems for tracking floodplain condition.

Integrated Floodplain Management describes long-range efforts that emerged through FbD and represent place-based initiatives to shift floodplain management.

The US Geological Survey has provided technical leadership to assess the ecological functions and flood risk within Puget Sound river floodplains.


  • 2011 - NOAA cooperative agreements with TNC funds development of multi-benefit project concept as potential method of increasing public benefit by combining flood infrastructure management, agricultural protection, and restoration. This follows the Fisher Slough Restoration funded by the ARRA.
  • 2013 - Initial state capital budget appropriation identifies Ecology as program management.
  • 201? - Bonneville Environmental Foundation selected to replace TNC as the non-profit network partner to support regional flood manager community development.
  • 2023 - Scott McKinney retires as program manager, bearing that role since program inception.


  • Ecology 2019 provides a report to the legislature describing the first 6 years of program development, from the 2013-15 Biennial Budget appropriation.
  • The development by the state of a NGO backbone organization to support flood manager community development is a unique quality of the program.
  • Among state capital programs FbD is unique in that project funding is authorized in the capital appropriations language with each funding action as its own line item. This limits Ecology's discretion to shift money between projects over time, as project scope shifts based on on-the-ground developments. This has increased the proportion of funds that must be re-appropriated year-to-year. It is not clear how this appropriation strategy was developed or what is serves. It does allow legislators to be aware of and lock down specific investment decisions prior to appropriation.
  • The state capital program was developed in response to a capital appropriation in the 2013-15 State biennial WDOE budget, which funded an initial 11 Puget Sound projects, largely derived from Lead Entity three year workplans where salmon recovery actions provide multiple benefits, and provided additional funds for competitive funding.
  • The new program decided to extend the effort to State-wide projects, and develop a list for the 2015-17 budget.
  • Washington State Department of Ecology program webpage
  • The program prepares a project list for legislative review. Appropriations are targeted to specific projects, reducing the programs ability to adjust the funding package after appropriation in response to changes in project status. This is the culmination of a trend toward direct legislative oversight of capital programs which has reduced program staffs ability to adjust funding in the public interest.

The National Initiative

Related Analysis