Community Rating System (CRS)

The Community Rating System (CRS) was implemented in 1990 as a voluntary program developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to rate communities on how effectively they manage their floodplains. Local governments participating in the CRS go beyond the minimum standards for floodplain management. The City of Lincoln has been actively involved with FEMA’s CRS Program since October 1991.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a federally funded program established in 1968 to make flood insurance available at a reasonable cost. To qualify for the NFIP, a community must adopt and enforce a floodplain management ordinance to regulate development in flood hazard areas. A property must reside in a community that participates in the NFIP to be covered by a flood insurance policy (for the structure and/or its contents).

How does the CRS work?

Participating communities provide information to citizens on how to protect their home and property from flooding, maintain the City's drainage system and provide site-specific information to homeowners about issues that may impact their property. By performing tasks and services that further reduce the effects of flooding hazards, these communities can be rewarded with discounts on flood insurance premiums for residents and businesses.

CRS communities are awarded points for their local floodplain management activities that exceed the NFIP minimum standards. Communities are placed into classes ranging from Class 10 (lowest class) to Class 1 (highest class) based on the total number of points accrued and other specific CRS requirements. CRS credit is awarded based upon the City’s inspection and maintenance program of its drainage system. Lincoln has progressively upgraded the class status over the years due to the efforts of both Building and Safety and Watershed Management staff.

Flood Insurance Discount

Flood insurance premiums for residents within a community that participates in the CRS may be discounted. These discounts are designed to reflect the reduced flood risk to property owners resulting from the community’s floodplain management activities, and the amount of the discount varies according to the community’s level of effort.

All participating communities start out as a Class 10, which offers no flood insurance premium discount, and each class increase results in an additional 5% premium discount. A community attaining a Class 1 CRS rating is awarded a 45% discount in flood insurance premiums.

The City of Lincoln is currently a Class 5 community. This provides a 25% discount in flood insurance premiums for property owners that have flood insurance for properties in the floodplain.

Rating Criteria

The the following four major categories are included in the rating:

Flood Damage Reduction

This requirement focuses on reducing flood damage to existing buildings.

Damage reduction measures that are recognized include reducing flood damage to existing buildings accomplished by acquiring, relocating or retrofitting existing buildings; maintaining and improving natural channels and storage basins; and planning for the best ways to implement these and other loss prevention and reduction activities.

Measures, such as improving natural channels, can prevent and reduce flood damage
  • Following updated flood reduction building policies, or “flood proofing” can substantially decrease property damage if a flood event were to occur.
  • Older homes built prior to new building standards and/or FEMA flood mapping are prone to flooding due to infrastructure being installed below flood levels.
  • Knowing your flood risk is also important, as there may be a floodplain in your neighborhood. This information can help determine how likely and how your home may be prone to flooding.
  • The City of Lincoln periodically updates the building codes to meet the industry standards (including those for flood prevention) for the safety welfare of the public.

For additional information, including a checklist for homeowners from the Federal Emergency Management Agency see the Property Protection Measures section of the Building and Safety Department’s floodplain website.


Stormwater improvement bonds provide for design and construction of urban storm drainage projects, flood reduction projects, stream rehabilitation and waterway work, design and construction of master planned basin projects, water quality projects incorporating best management practices, and preliminary engineering for basin master plans to determine future projects. These improvements reduce storm water runoff and flooding if major rains occur, reduce flooding impacts from major stream channels, prevent or repair degraded stream channels, and improve stormwater quality.

More Info: Stormwater Improvement Bonds

Watershed Management funds their stormwater projects through general obligation bonds, cost shares with the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District and other entities as well as occasional state or federal grants. These funds are used for studies and the design and construction of stormwater projects. They are prioritized based on flooding impacts, structural integrity (for those projects related to rehabilitation of existing urban drainage infrastructure), stormwater quality, accessibility, and other factors. The general obligation bonds are voter approved bonds and are typically brought forward on or around a three to four-year frequency. The projects for the bonds are determined by staff based on priorities as noted above. The final project list is vetted internally and reviewed by LTU administration and other city administrative staff. The bond language with the project list is proposed to city council for approval to be on the ballot for a subsequent primary or general election. The general obligation bond is than voted on by the voting public and if approved the bond goes forward and the proceeds are appropriated to the capital improvement projects on the project list.

New larger stormdrain pipe is installed as part of a stormwater improvement bond project

Flood Preparedness

While no one can prevent a flood, there are things we can do to prepare. We use education, incentives, and better building practices to greatly reduce not only the impact of flooding, but perhaps prevent it from happening.

The City of Lincoln has implemented a Flood Warning System.

The National Guard assists with responding to flooding in 2019

During a natural disaster situation, such as a flood, the Lancaster County Emergency Management agency works with the City, Lower Platte South Natural Resources District (NRD) and other local, State and Federal agencies in coordinating disaster fighting efforts.

When rainfall conditions indicate the potential for flooding, they monitor local conditions through media sources, the National Weather Service in Valley, Flood Warning System, and the Emergency Management Office.

Once the threat of flooding nears an emergency situation, the Mayor of Lincoln, in conjunction with the County Emergency Management Agency, will activate the Emergency Operations Center. NRD personnel will provide input on evacuation needs.

The USGS and NRD operate flood warning systems that include 14 rain gauges and 6 stream gauges in the Lincoln area. When in a flood situation, the polling of the gauges occurs every 15 minutes. If not in a flood situation, the gauges are set to be polled every hour. Related: Floodplain map with interactive flood stages

Personnel are trained to follow the Flood Alert Checklist which outlines procedures prior to, at the time of and following call out to perform emergency operation activities.

Flooding can be emotionally and financially devastating. Just 1 inch of water can cause $25,000 of damage to your home.

Flood insurance is recommended for properties in areas that are prone to or have the potential to flood. Most standard homeowner insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Flood insurance is required by lenders for properties in (FEMA) designated floodplains. There is typically a 30-day waiting period before the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) coverage takes effect.

Public Information

The City has an overall public information program that educates citizens to increase flood hazard awareness and to motivate actions to reduce flood damage, encourage flood insurance coverage and protect the natural functions of floodplains.

  • Outreach projects are split into two categories: those that are distributed every year; and those that will be distributed when a flood occurs but are prepared in advance and reviewed and adjusted each year. Credits for these projects are based on three factors: what and how many messages are conveyed; what types of projects they are; and how often they are delivered.
  • Projects are comprised of Informational Projects - booklets, brochures, flyers made available upon request or placed in public locations; General Outreach Projects – signs, presentations designed to resonate with an identified general audience; and Targeted Outreach Projects – directed to a specific audience in the community.
  • Messages or specific statements or directions regarding what the community considers are of high importance, are the heart of public outreach. Messages must be comprised of one of six general topics that are important to FEMA and the community.

    Six priority topics:

    1. Know your flood hazard
    2. Insure your property for your flood hazard
    3. Protect people from the hazard
    4. Protect your property from the hazard
    5. Build responsibly
    6. Protect natural floodplain functions
Public outreach educates citizens in order to increase flood hazard awareness

Information regarding flooding is available at local libraries or online at (Search for: FEMA Flood in the Library Catalog search bar. Results may include other publications; look for the items directly from FEMA.)

Related: Floodplain Brochure (PDF, 699KB)

Mapping & Regulatory Standards

To ensure minimum NFIP requirements adequately protect property from flood damage, the CRS provides credit for preserving open space and regulating new development in areas subject to special flood related hazards.

  • Communities must preserve certain areas from development, and an impact adjustment map, using the local floodplain map as the base, must be provided to document and calculate the areas established as being available for flooding in the community.
  • Areas of open space prone to flooding would not sustain property damage in the event of a flood situation.
  • Providing a visual presentation of the floodplain management programs can help identify where the problems are and where the community may be dealing with problems relating to flood prone areas.
  • The map is not enough to enforce the requirement of the open green space. Regulatory standards are necessary to prevent building in flood prone areas as well as preserving natural green space in areas of high development.

Related: Floodplain map with property information

Maps are available that show floodplain areas
Ordinances and Regulations
To qualify for the NFIP, a community must adopt and enforce a floodplain management ordinance to regulate development in flood hazard areas.
Lincoln Municipal Code (LMC) Chapter 27.52 Flood Regulations for Existing Urban Area
Lincoln Municipal Code (LMC) Chapter 27.53 Flood Regulations for New Growth Areas
Floodplain Information
To learn more about flooding and protecting your property and yourself: Building and Safety Department Floodplain Information


FEMA – National Flood Insurance Program
Community Rating System
LPSNRD Hazard Mitigation Plan - Section Three: Community Profile and Capability Assessment