It also demanded an end to stop-start funding for flood defences.
The Institution’s State of the Nation report on flooding, published on Wednesday, also calls for duplication of key utility sites to reduce the risk posed to critical infrastructure by floods.
It also said planning policy needs tightening.
"There needs to be a shift to flood resilience rather than defence, which gives much better value for money from investment. But we also still have to target defence work," said MWH technical director and ICE council member professor David Balmforth, who led the report's steering group.
Funding needed for national flood defence and resilience measures, will be boosted to £800M per year by 2010 following last year’s floods (NCE 5 July 2007).
University of Sheffield professor of urban drainage Richard Ashley led the ICE report, Flooding: Engineering Resilience.
"The main message is that stop-start funding has to be stopped, but I am encouraged that the government is willing to do something in legislation," said Ashley, referring to the Government’s proposal to hand the Environment Agency powers to co-ordinate efforts to prevent surface water flooding (News last week).
Balmforth argued that the best way to protect critical infrastructure is to make it less critical.
"There is a need for some duplication, so that rather than focusing on individual sites, you can actually reduce the amount of critical infrastructure overall."
He said water company Severn Trent was an example.
It is looking at building infrastructure to complement the Mythe treatment works, knocked-out in the summer floods, cutting water supplies to 140,000 people.
A second works would halve the risk posed by flooding.
Balmforth said the controversial planning policy statement PPS25 should be tightened-up to ensure local authorities are consistent in their approach to development.
PPS25 rules out building new developments in flood-prone areas, except when there is no alternative and where there are sufficient mitigation measures.
"Because PPS25 is open to interpretation, there are differences on how the 'exception' rule may be applied. Local authorities are not ignoring PPS25, but there is an opportunity here to strengthen the legislation so that measures are applied consistently," he said.