Going beyond the flood insurance rate map: insights from flood hazard map co-production
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-18-1097-2018
Flood hazard mapping in the United States (US) is deeply tied to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Consequently, publicly available flood maps provide essential information for insurance purposes, but they do not necessarily provide relevant information for non-insurance aspects of flood risk management (FRM) such as public education and emergency planning. Recent calls for flood hazard maps that support a wider variety of FRM tasks highlight the need to deepen our understanding about the factors that make flood maps useful and understandable for local end users. In this study, social scientists and engineers explore opportunities for improving the utility and relevance of flood hazard maps through the co-production of maps responsive to end users' FRM needs. Specifically, two-dimensional flood modeling produced a set of baseline hazard maps for stakeholders of the Tijuana River valley, US, and Los Laureles Canyon in Tijuana, Mexico. Focus groups with natural resource managers, city planners, emergency managers, academia, non-profit, and community leaders refined the baseline hazard maps by triggering additional modeling scenarios and map revisions. Several important end user preferences emerged, such as (1) legends that frame flood intensity both qualitatively and quantitatively, and (2) flood scenario descriptions that report flood magnitude in terms of rainfall, streamflow, and its relation to an historic event. Regarding desired hazard map content, end users' requests revealed general consistency with mapping needs reported in European studies and guidelines published in Australia. However, requested map content that is not commonly produced included (1) standing water depths following the flood, (2) the erosive potential of flowing water, and (3) pluvial flood hazards, or flooding caused directly by rainfall. We conclude that the relevance and utility of commonly produced flood hazard maps can be most improved by illustrating pluvial flood hazards and by using concrete reference points to describe flooding scenarios rather than exceedance probabilities or frequencies.