The Coordinated Hazard Assessment and Mapping Program (CHAMP) team includes 25 professional staff. Nearly all are Certified Floodplain Managers, eight are registered Professional Engineers (P.E.) in Illinois, nine are certified Geospatial Information System Professionals (GISP), and one is an American Institute of Certifed Planners (AICP) registered planner. The program started in 2004 with one professional engineer, one geospatial analyst and funding to produce digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps for several Illinois counties.
Program Background and Description
CHAMP has its roots in the Hydrology Section of the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS). In the early 1970s, ISWS assumed the role of hydrology consultant to the Division of Waterways (later the Division of Water Resources, DWR) in efforts to regulate floodplain development under the State Floodway Delineation Program.
ISWS was responsible for reviewing stream discharges submitted for flood studies and floodway determinations, recommending either approval or disapproval to DWR. Upon request, ISWS performed local studies to determine flood elevations and conducted studies of many streams in Illinois.
In addition, ISWS contracted with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to perform flood studies. HUD originally administered the National Flood Insurance Program created by The National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (Public Law 90-448). A state repository for floodplain information was established at ISWS around 1977. The State Floodplain Repository and Information services remained active until the mid-2000s.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are fundamental to the current production of flood hazard and flood risk information. ISWS began using GIS in 1983 to create digital data to identify lands unsuitable for mining. Applying this technology, ISWS digitized the countywide flood maps and released statewide flood zones in CD form in April 1994. Illinois was the first state in the U.S. to do so.
CHAMP started working in partnership with the Ilinois Department of Natural Resources/Office of Water Resources (IDNR/OWR, formerly DWR) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 2004 to update regulatory flood hazard maps for Illinois (known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps) into a state-of the-art geodatabase format.
In 2008 the ISWS, through the University of Illinois, signed a Cooperating Technical Partnership (CTP) Agreement with FEMA. As a CTP, ISWS/CHAMP contracts with FEMA through a cooperative agreement for projects related to flood hazard identification, mapping and risk assessment. IDNR/OWR has regulatory authority over flood issues, and ISWS continues to partner with IDNR/OWR and FEMA on projects.
Projects include conducting FEMA Flood Insurance Studies, developing Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), maintaining the Coordinated Needs Management Database for the State of Illinois, performing watershed-scale hydrologic and hydraulic studies for FEMA, as well as performing outreach efforts and preparing various geospatial products in FEMA’s non-regulatory Risk MAP product suite. Each year CHAMP and IDNR/OWR prepare a joint state business plan for FEMA to advance flood hazard information and risk data investigations.
CHAMP is responsible for reviewing FIRM revision applications through the FEMA Letter of Map Revision Partnership. CHAMP staff have performed reviews of proposed revisions to flood studies on FEMA’s behalf since September 2010.
CHAMP’s expertise in flooding issues is well recognized and has resulted in numerous flood study projects, including conducting flood studies for counties, researching flood impacts of levee failures, contributing to the Urban Flooding Awareness Act Report mandated by the state legislature, and working on watershed release rates for the Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Staff contribute to the Illinois State Hazard Mitigation Plan updates and assist communities in preparing FEMA-required hazard mitigation plans.
By providing high-quality regulatory floodplain maps, CHAMP supports the fulfillment of state mandates in collaborating with and advising departments having administrative powers and duties to manage the natural resources of the state and collaborates with similar departments in other states and with the U.S. government. The preparation and distribution of high-quality flood information and related study data support the mandate to provide investigation results and research in the field of natural science with the goal of distributing this information to the interested public.
For more information, visit www.illinoisfloodmaps.org.