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

Planning and Regulations Can Promote Safe Use of Flood-prone Land

The objective of floodplain management is to control the use of flood-prone locations in a manner that promotes public safety, avoids flood damage, 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 of 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.

Floodplain Development Standards

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 fact sheets to assist with implementation of floodplain development requirements.
STC Documents

Floodplain Management Requirements: A Study Guide and Desk Reference for Local Officials

Federal Emergency Management Agency reference manual includes more detail (and many more pages) than the STC fact sheets (FEMA 480).
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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.
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Floodplain Development Permit

A Floodplain Development Permit is required for all building and non-building development activities in the regulated floodplain. The permit application is designed to assist with the process of reviewing and approving floodplain development proposals. The municipality must maintain records that document compliance with floodplain development standards.

Permit Process for Floodplain Development

Checklist for review, approval, and oversight of floodplain development projects
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Floodplain Development Permit Application

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FEMA Elevation Certificates Presentation

Slides for STC training workshop about accurate completion and use of Elevation Certificates to document building elevation information for floodplain management and flood insurance purposes
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Elevation Certificate and Instructions

The Elevation Certificate is generally completed by a land surveyor (FEMA Form 086-0-33).
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Floodplain Development Checklists and Forms

Additional checklists and forms for achieving and documenting compliance
STC Documents

Local Floodplain Management Laws

Each municipality in the region has enacted a Local Law for Flood Damage Prevention based on 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 STC or NYSDEC 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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Management of Floodplain Development

Chapter 4 of Model Local Laws to Increase Resilience (by NYS Department of State) includes information and language for limiting flood damage using Flood Damage Prevention Laws and Floodplain Overlay Districts.
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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 and Damage

Substantial Improvement / Substantial 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.

Answers to Questions About Substantially Improved/Substantially Damaged Buildings

FEMA 213
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Post Disaster Inspections Including Substantial Damage

Online training resources assembled by the NYS Floodplain and Stormwater Managers Association
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Land Use Planning and Regulations

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.

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

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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Model Local Laws to Increase Resilience

NYS Department of State compiled information and local law language that municipalities can adapt and use to increase resilience to flooding. Chapters include: Basic Land Use Tools for Resiliency, Wetland and Watercourse Protection Measures, Management of Floodplain Development, and Stormwater Control Measures.
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Subdivision Design and Flood Hazard Areas

Guidance for using the subdivision and site plan review process to reduce flood vulnerability (PAS Report 584 by the Association of State Floodplain Managers and the American Planning Association).
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FLOODPLAINS FLOOD! The best way to avoid flood damage is to locate vulnerable development outside of the floodplain.

Additional Resources

Floodplain Management Training

Online training resources have been assembled by the NYS Floodplain and Stormwater Managers Association on various topics, including National Flood Insurance Program Overview, Elevation Certificates, Floodplain Development Permits, Post Disaster Inspections, Protecting Natural Floodplain Functions, and more.
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Local Flood Hazards

Information about mapped and unmapped flood hazard areas.
STC Webpage

Recommended Practice for Home Heating Oil Tank Flood Resistance

National Oilheat Research Alliance
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