In late 2012, a federal review of past certification of the safety of the local levee system indicates that the system does not meet the new federal standards due to a lack of data and analysis during past evaluations. The two western drainage districts – Peninsula Drainage District #1 (PEN 1) and Peninsula Drainage District #2 (PEN 2) – are notified that their certification through FEMA will be invalidated as of August 2013. The other two drainage districts that manage parts of the levee system – Multnomah County Drainage District and Sandy Drainage Improvement Company – are notified that their certification will be invalidated as of August 2017.
To recertify, the drainage districts will need to prove that their levee system meets the minimum flood safety requirements set by FEMA and the US Army Corps of Engineers. They project it will cost over $5 million to do the necessary investigation in all four districts to identify whether there are deficiencies that have to be repaired in order to recertify the levees.
Recertification is a critical part of being accredited by FEMA. Without certification, FEMA could revoke accreditation and remap the area as a 100-year floodplain at any time. Being remapped as a floodplain would have major economic consequences for the region and it would mean that local property owners would no longer have access to affordable flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program but would be required to buy flood insurance at much higher rates.
With PEN 1 and PEN 2 certification expiring first, the focus starts there.