Creating a Multi-Objective Management Plan

Multi-objective management interweaves No Adverse Impact (NAI) principles into all aspects of community planning—simultaneously addressing not only land use but also efforts to protect community economic, cultural, ecological, historic, fiscal, and aesthetic resources. Multi-objective management gathers interested parties, such as residents, business leaders, and local officials, to decide how to manage land in a community, integrating as many interests as possible—not just hazard reduction or economic development.

The Association of State Floodplain Managers offers these six recommendations for creating a multi-objective management plan in its handbook, Using Multi-Objective Management to Reduce Flood Losses in Your Watershed (PDF, 2.1 MB).

  1. Keep efforts locally based. For a plan to be implemented with broad-based support, it must be acceptable to you, your neighbors, and others in the area. It must fit in with other local concerns and goals.
  2. Work to understand the full range of coastal floodplain management issues (such as flooding, erosion, and sea level rise), through hazard identification and mapping (see identifying hazards). Flooding and storm damage in coastal regions are complex. In an effort to lessen their impacts, your community must recognize the many factors that contribute to storm damage and flooding, including storm surge and the effects of development and redevelopment. These factors are not taken into account by the FIRMs for your community (see understanding the limitations of FIRMs and FIS reports).
  3. Think broadly when seeking solutions. Don’t limit yourself to what your community has done in the past, especially if your community has relied primarily on structural solutions. Unless your community has the technical expertise and the time to do all aspects of hazard planning, identify grant opportunities so you can hire consultants to perform appropriate tasks (see the funding section). Research innovative solutions/successfully implemented plans from other communities, and explore making them transferable to yours.
  4. Coordinate loss reduction measures with other community needs, plans, and activities. When considering coastal flood and storm damage issues, identify other community concerns (e.g., preservation of local economies, protection of recreational areas, and maintenance of quality of life) that may have similar or conflicting goals. Gather people with these interests together to brainstorm solutions. Make sure these meetings are well facilitated and end with some consensus, no matter how minor, to show that people’s issues and ideas have been considered.
  5. Seek expert assistance when appropriate (state, federal, or private). Don’t re-invent the wheel! While your community may have a unique combination of goals, it is likely that other communities have faced similar challenges. State (e.g., the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Marine Resources, and the Office of Coastal Management and Planning) and federal agencies (e.g., the Federal Emergency Management Agency) have expertise to offer. Take advantage of it.
  6. Build partnerships between private and public groups who may have a stake in decreasing the costs of your community’s hazard response and storm damages. Local businesses and Chambers of Commerce, for example, may take great interest in flood mitigation efforts if they also protect the beaches that bring tourists to your community. Watershed associations may be able to help seek grants and provide public outreach.

Also see Addressing Your Community’s Flood Problems: A Guide for Elected Officials (PDF, 5.1 MB) for an overview of how communities can work to comprehensively address their flood risk. Includes case studies. (NOTE: This guide is not designed specifically for coastal areas.)

While it is sometimes difficult to garner support among various interests when creating plans, the more interest groups involved in designing a plan, the more likely it is to be adopted and implemented. To keep everyone engaged throughout the planning process, make sure this process is well coordinated and its progress recorded—no matter how small.


* Your community needs only 500 points to qualify for reduced flood insurance premiums through the Community Rating System (CRS). For more information (including how to apply for the CRS program), see our Community Rating System (CRS) primer.

Notes from the folks at CRS:

“A Multi-Objective Management Plan that follows the steps and requirements of a floodplain management plan can receive credit under Activity 510, Floodplain Management Planning.”