ta managing floodplains

Building in a floodplain is like pitching your tent on the highway when there are no cars coming

Managing Floodplains

Managing Floodplains

The objective of floodplain management

The objective of floodplain management is to control the use of flood-prone locations in a manner that promotes public safety, avoids flood damage to assets, and minimizes economic disruptions due to flooding. Because water flows downhill, a reliable strategy for avoiding flood damage is to keep development out of low-lying areas that are prone to flooding. In the highest risk parts of the floodplain—such as places with frequent flooding, high velocities, lack flood warning time, or erosion threats—it is desirable to maintain open space. When development does occur in areas with known flood hazards, it should be designed and constructed in a manner that is protected from flood damage.

Minimum standards for floodplain development

Minimum standards for floodplain development are enforced by each local government for buildings and non-building development within the regulated floodplain (FEMA-mapped 1% annual probability/100-year floodplain). All municipalities in the STC region have enacted local floodplain development regulations that are consistent with federal standards (thereby enabling the availability of flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program). Floodplain standards for buildings are also included in the NYS uniform codes. These regulations are intended to ensure that new development in flood-prone locations is reasonably safe from flood damage and will not result in physical damage to other property.

Floodplain Development Fact Sheets

STC developed a series of 13 fact sheets to assist with implementation of floodplain development requirements.
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Floodplain Management Requirements: A Study Guide and Desk Reference for Local Officials

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reference manual includes more detail (and many more pages) than the STC fact sheets.
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Floodplain Development Permit

The Floodplain Development Permit is designed to assist with the process of reviewing and approving floodplain development proposals. The municipality must maintain records documenting compliance with floodplain development standards.

Floodplain Development Permit Application

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Floodplain Development Checklists and Forms

Checklist for review, approval, and oversight of floodplain development projects and additional forms for documenting compliance.
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Elevation Certificate and Instructions

The Elevation Certificate is generally completed by a land surveyor and is used to document building elevation information for floodplain management and flood insurance purposes.
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FEMA Elevation Certificates Presentation

Slides for STC training workshop about accurate completion and use of Elevation Certificates.
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Local Floodplain Management Laws

(Local Laws for Flood Damage Prevention) utilize the model law developed by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Municipalities are encouraged to integrate additional standards to provide greater flood damage protection. When updating these regulations, contact NYSDEC or STC for the latest model law language and additional assistance.

Clarification of Floodplain Development Standards, Recommendations for the Town of Cohocton

STC recommendations to update the Local Law for Flood Damage Prevention and incorporate clarifications to the NYS Model Local Law.
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Higher Floodplain Development Standards, Recommendations for the Town of Horseheads

STC developed optional language for higher standards that can be incorporated into local Flood Damage Prevention Laws.
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NAI How-to Guide for Regulations and Development Standards

Association of State Floodplain Managers No-Adverse Impact guidance document presents strategies and example regulatory language for going beyond minimum floodplain development standards to prevent adverse impacts on other properties and the community.
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Substantial Improvement

Substantial Improvement/Damage Rule for existing buildings in the regulated floodplain: If the cost of improvements or the cost to repair damages (from any cause) exceeds 50% of the market value of the building (excluding land value), the entire building must be brought up to current floodplain management standards.

Authority of Local Governments

The land use management authority of local governments presents numerous opportunities for improved floodplain management. Local plans and regulations can be used to promote recreational uses in flood-prone areas, protect or establish vegetated riparian buffers, prevent development in erosion hazard areas, identify and manage flood risks outside of regulated floodplains, protect beneficial floodplain functions, etc.

Municipal Land Use Strategies for Improving Flood Resilience: Protecting Health, Safety, and Welfare

This guidance document developed by STC provides ideas and resources to help local governments integrate flood hazards into local planning and land use management activities.
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Update Your Plans

Flood Ready Vermont webpage about integrating flood risks into multiple community planning activities includes useful tools, examples and links to other outside learning sources to help prepare for the next flood.
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NAI How-to Guide for Planning

Association of State Floodplain Managers No-Adverse Impact guidance document presents factors for effective planning and a range of planning tools to improve floodplain management.
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Model Local Laws to Increase Resilience

NYS Department of State document with numerous examples of local law language that municipalities can adapt and use to increase resilience to flooding.
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Subdivision Design and Flood Hazard Areas

Report (by the Association of State Floodplain Managers and the American Planning Association) provides guidance for using the subdivision and site plan review process to reduce flood vulnerability.
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The best way to avoid flood damage is to locate vulnerable development outside of the floodplain.
Additional Resources

NYS DEC Floodplain Management

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation provides technical support, training, and program verification for floodplain management and works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on flood hazard mapping. Recommended Practice for
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Recommended Practice for Home Heating Oil Tank Flood Resistance

National Oilheat Research Alliance
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The Costs and Benefits of Building Higher

(Brochure by the Association of State Floodplain Managers) In addition to damage protection, higher building elevation can reduce the cost of flood insurance. (Note that New York State has higher elevation standards for new construction and substantially improved buildings).
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