Flood Damage Reduction. The Kennebec River is subject to frequent and major flooding. In the past decade, there have been four significant floods on the river, usually occurring in the spring when heavy rains and snowmelt combine to cause flooding conditions. In April 1987, Kennebec River flooding caused more than $22 million in damages.29 After the April 1987 flood, additional stream gages were recommended. However, budget constraints have prevented installation of additional gages.
Following the 1987 flood, the Army Corps of Engineers conducted a reconnaissance study of flood damage reduction alternatives in the Kennebec River Basin. Work entailed data collection and delineation of damage areas based on information received from local officials from 14 communities hit hardest by the flood. Analysis of two flood control reservoir alternatives, requested by State officials, found them to be impractical. Design and cost estimates of structural alternatives for the individual communities revealed they were also not economically justified. It is likely, with further study, that cost efficient nonstructural flood damage reduction measures would be formulated for Waterville, Winslow, Augusta, Hallowell, Randolph, Gardiner, Farmington, Madison, and Pittsfield. A basin-wide automated flood warning system and reservoir regulation were also found to be cost efficient.30 All but two of the communities on the Kennebec River participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This national program provides a non-structural approach to flood damage reduction by mandating that all new construction in the floodplain meet certain minimum development standards such as elevating above the 100-year flood elevation.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has invested tens of thousands of dollars in detailed flood insurance studies identifying the 100 year flood boundaries along the Kennebec. If these floodplain boundaries are significantly altered by structural modifications, the cost of new studies should be borne by those creating the alteration.
The Land and Water Resources Council, a cabinet level affiliation of the State's natural resource agencies, promotes informed and cooperative flood damage reduction through its standing committee, the River Flow Advisory Committee. Comprised of federal, state and private river basin managers, the River Flow Advisory Committee meets annually to review snowpack and stream gage data, assess potential spring runoff, and review various river management issues.
In an effort to promote flood preparedness, SPO has required applicants involved in the relicensing process to identify precautions and management procedures in the event of a 50-100 year flood. SPO has requested applicants to produce an operational procedure for the project in the event of severe flood conditions if one has not already been established. The procedure is required to include at a minimum information on spillway capacity, plans for flashboard failures, gate settings for various conditions, high water guidelines and delegation of authority to essential personnel.