Levee Safety Action Classification

Published Feb. 19, 2013

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) works with stakeholders to assess, communicate, and manage the risks to people, property, and the environment from inundation that may result from overtopping or failure of components of levee systems. Levee Screening and Levee Safety Action Classification (LSAC) supports this mission as outlined by the National Levee Safety Act, Title IX, Section 9004 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007.

Levee Screening supports the following principles:

  • Life safety is paramount.
  • Flood risk reduction infrastructure reduces risk; it does not eliminate risk—know your risk.
  • Living with flood risk reduction infrastructure is a shared responsibility—know your role.
  • Take appropriate actions to reduce your risk.
  • Flood risk is dynamic and changes over time.

There are five action classes used in the USACE Levee Safety Program shown in the table below. The numerical value of the LSAC does not communicate risk in and by itself but should be used as the framework to discuss risk associated with levee systems and to drive actions to reduce risk. Levee Screenings are prepared by a multidisciplinary Omaha District team and presented to a national cadre of USACE subject experts. The national cadre reviews the screening for accuracy and completeness then recommends a LSAC to the Levee Safety Senior Oversight Group (LSOG). The LSOG completes their review and forwards a LSAC to the USACE Levee Safety Officer for final approval.

  Levee Safety Action Classification


Characteristics* Actions*

Urgent and Compelling

  Are defined as the likelihood of inundation with associated consequences characterizing each action class. Actions recommended for each class and level of urgency.



High Priority






*Detailed Characteristics and Actions will be available for each LSAC

Before discussing or managing risk associated with a levee system, the risk is quantified to form a greater level of understanding. Levee Screenings are completed through the use of a Levee Screening Tool (LST) and provide a quantitative assessment of the general condition and relative risks associated with individual levee segments. A Levee Screening moves beyond inventory and inspections, which are the foundational elements of the Levee Safety Program. A Levee Screening simply asks: What is the likelihood and severity of undesirable or adverse consequences? Levee Screenings to determine general condition and relative risks and LSACs are to be considered routine management processes for levees similar to routine operation & maintenance, monitoring, and
inspections. Routine inspections, conducted annually, are a critical component of a levee safety program and focus on the operation and maintenance of the project. These annual inspections verify that the project sponsor operates and maintains the levee in accordance with the project agreement. Routine inspections result in an acceptable, minimally acceptable, or unacceptable rating and affect the project’s eligibility for federal rehabilitation assistance under the Rehabilitation and Inspection Program (authorized by Public Law 84-99), if damaged in a flood or storm event.

The periodic inspection is similar to a routine inspection and is conducted by a multidisciplinary team, led by a professional engineer. It includes a more detailed, comprehensive and consistent evaluation of the condition of the levee system. It is conducted every five years on federally-authorized levees in the PL 84-99 Program.

Activity under the periodic inspection includes routine inspection items, verifies proper operation and maintenance, and compares current design and construction criteria with those in place when the levee was constructed. The final periodic inspection rating is based upon the routine inspection items, and will include an acceptable, minimally acceptable or unacceptable rating. The overall periodic inspection rating can affect the project’s eligibility for federal rehabilitation assistance under PL 84-99, if damaged in a flood or storm event.

The Levee Screenings are based on the levee conditions and available data at the time of the screening. Flood loading, performance assessment, and consequence estimation are three major components of a Levee Screening. The most recent hydrologic and hydraulic information is used to determine the flood loading or the frequency of water on the levee. The most current levee inspection, performance history, flood fight records, photos, and design documentation are used in completing engineering-based performance assessments. The consequences include an estimate of life loss and direct economic damages.

The LSAC does not affect the eligibility of a project for repair for flood or storm damage under the PL 84-99 program. It also does not directly affect inspections, however; it may bring forth areas of focus during subsequent inspections, which need to be addressed and resolved by the levee sponsor.

The LSAC does not directly affect the FEMA accreditation of the levee system.

For more information regarding the LSAC, please use the contact information listed below.

Omaha District Contact Information:
Lowell Blankers Levee Screening Facilitator 402-995-2323
Kevin Adams Levee Screening Facilitator 402-995-2331
Bryan Flere Levee Safety Program Manager 402-995-2227
Christopher Horihan Rehabilitation and Inspection Program Manager 402-995-2700
Randall Behm Flood Risk Manager 402-995-2322

HQ USACE Levee Safety Program
USACE National Levee Database
National Flood Risk Management Program