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Canal policies threaten federal flood insurance in Idaho

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has threatened to suspend the National Flood Insurance Program in Idaho.

The program has more than 8,000 enrollees in Idaho and insures structures worth more than $2.1 billion.

Idaho Department of Water Resources Deputy Director Mat Weaver told the Idaho Water Resource Board the threat revolves around a conflict between state law and federal law regarding the “operation, maintenance and repair of canals and flood ways.”

Weaver said State IDWR Director Gary Spackman, and Idaho Water Users Association director Paul Arrington met with FEMA officials in Seattle. “We had a good meeting,” Weaver said. “We came away with assurances that FEMA would not surprise us with a letter suspending the NFIP program, and that they would give us fair warning if they intended to do so.”

A group of stakeholders is working to resolve FEMA’s concerns. They are looking at practices used by canal companies, flood districts, and local governments to clean up debris on river banks and in canals.

“We’re attempting to put sideboards on maintenance guidelines,” Weaver said.

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