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Politics & Government

FEMA, Idaho Clash Over Flood Insurance Law

Idaho Fish and Game

The state of Idaho and the Federal government are trying to work out an agreement to avoid jeopardizing flood insurance in the state.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency oversees the National Flood insurance program. As part of that responsibility, FEMA establishes standards local governments need to enforce in floodplains.    

In 2010, the Idaho State Legislature exempted irrigation and drainage structures from local permitting requirements. The Idaho Mountain Express reports that conflict places more than 8,000 federal flood insurance policies in the state at risk, including more than 1,200 in the Wood River Valley.  

Last fall, FEMA notified the Idaho Department of Water Resources of the violation, although it has yet to take any enforcement action.

State regulators argue actions like sediment removal and the clearing of beaver dams are necessary maintenance and should be exempt from Federal permits.  

Flood insurance is required to obtain a federally insured home loan to buy or build in a floodplain.   

State regulators tell the Mountain Express that while the state might have as little as 30 days to respond if FEMA decides to enforce the code, it’s more likely there will be a longer probation period to allow for any needed changes in Idaho law.