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Watts Branch Neighborhoods Flood Risk Management

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Many homes in the Watts Branch neighborhood are in a floodplain, identified by FEMA, called the Special Flood Hazard Area. In this area, also known as the 100-year floodplain, there is a 1% chance of being flooded every year. It is a high-risk flood zone, where federal insurance, local insurance, and building requirements are enforced to protect people and buildings.

This webpage serves as an overview of new flood risk data for Watts Branch neighborhoods in Ward 7 and the set of strategies DOEE is putting forth to protect lives and property in the Watts Branch Area.

Watts Branch Flood Risk Management Study

From 2017-2021, DOEE collaborated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and DC Silver Jackets to investigate existing and future flood risk in Watts Branch. The resulting report evaluated how shifts in the frequency and intensity of rainfall would change flood risk in the future and provided potential strategies that could help reduce future flood damages.

The report identifies potential structural (I.e., floodwalls, levees, pump stations, stormwater management infrastructure, etc.) and nonstructural (I.e. home elevation, commercial building floodproofing, flood warning systems, etc.) flood risk management measures that can be done at an individual as well as watershed-wide level to reduce flood risk in the Watts Branch area.

Watts Branch Letter of Map Revision

The District of Columbia’s floodplain maps in Watts Branch will change in 2024. The new floodplain maps are published through a Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) which is the process to officially update FEMA’s current Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for the District. The District is making this change to account for better topographic and hydraulic data that was recently made available to the District. After the change takes effect, the official floodplain maps for the Watts Branch will more accurately represent the neighborhood’s actual flood risk. See the updated map and its impacts.

FEMA Building Resilience Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Grant

Following the Watts Branch Flood Risk Management report highlighted above, DOEE worked with DC HSEMA to apply for a FEMA grant under the Building Resilience Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program in order to identify and design a network of specific natural and blue-greeninfrastructure projects to reduce flood risk in the Watts Branch area. This grant will allow DOEE to hire a contractor who will build off the previous Watts Branch Flood Risk Management Report and come up with specific flood resilient infrastructure designs that will then go into construction to help reduce flood risk.

Watts Branch E-Learning Video Modules

DOEE has developed three short online videos discussing flood risk in the Watts Branch neighborhood as part of the Flooding in the District video series. The purpose of this three-part episode is to educate the public on flood risk in Watts Branch, the intent of the Watts Branch Flood Risk Management Study, and the study’s recommendations.

Let's talk about flood risk in the Watts branch. Why did the US Army Corps of Engineers and DC Silver Jackets study Watts Branch for flood risk? To explain why, we must consider the land's history, its topography, its current development, and its future. 

Do you live in far Northeast Ward7? Does your neighborhood have problems with flooding? Join us as we explore outcomes and options from the Silver Jackets’ Watts Branch Flood Risk Management Study, which was discussed in Part I.

Join us as we review the 2021 Silver Jackets’ Watts Branch Flood Risk Management Study’s recommendations for next steps in the short and long term. As the video mentions, DOEE has been working through these actions in the past few years, and the FEMA BRIC grant for flood resilience design in the Watts Branch area will provide the next big step towards reducing flood risk for the Watts Branch area.

Outreach in Watts Branch

Since last year, DOEE has partnered with the Faunteroy Community Enrichment Center to participate in the monthly resilience series at the Center. The Center is located at 4800 Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue, NE, Washington DC 20019. The format provides opportunities to receive the latest updates on the flood resilience plans and programs in the Watts Branch area, as well as provide opportunities for open dialogue.  This is a great place to learn more about flood risk, how to protect your house against it, and stay up to date on the various programs that DOEE has to help reduce your flood risk.

Find out more here at Resilience Hub Series - FCEC

Program Contact

For more information regarding flood mitigation efforts in Watts Branch, please contact [email protected].

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