Floodplain Management

NFIP Participation

The City of Valdez participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP is a program implemented by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in which local communities adopt and enforce a floodplain management ordinance to reduce future flood risks in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) and in return, the federal government makes flood insurance available within the community as a financial protection against flood losses.

The Planning Department staff works with local homeowners, lending institutions and insurance companies to educate people about the risks of living in and around a floodplain. The City of Valdez keeps a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) on staff and requires a Floodplain Development Permit for all activities within the SFHA.

For more information on floodplain management requirements in our community, please read the following section of the Valdez Municipal Code: Chapter 15.30 (Flood Hazard Protection Regulations) constitutes the City of Valdez Floodplain Management Ordinance. There are some additional floodplain management regulations referenced in the building code and the subdivision code.

Community Rating System (CRS) Participation

The City of Valdez also participates in the Community Rating System (CRS), which is a voluntary program offered by the NFIP that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management to exceed the minimum NFIP requirements and as a result, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk.

Every five years, the City of Valdez gathers together all the outreach work it has been doing to educate it's community and any additional work being done to reduce the risk of flood damage in its community and sends a packet to the CRS coordinator, who tallies up each activity for a total amount of credit points. Based on the number of points earned each year, the City of Valdez is assigned a class between 1 and 10, 1 being the highest rated and 10 being the lowest. Each class represents a 5% discount in flood insurance for people with NFIP flood insurance policies with the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). Currently the City is a class 8, which represents a 10% discount to flood insurance policies within the City.

Floodplain Development

Development in the floodplain can have unforeseen repercussions both upstream and downstream of the development and must be carefully monitoring and regulated. The City of Valdez requires any kind of work done at any time in the floodplain to have a Floodplain Development Permit issued. Normally, building a structure or putting electrical or plumbing into a property triggers a City of Valdez Building Permit, but in addition to those things, a Floodplain Development Permit is required for any kind of development activity within the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). Development is defined as any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate, including but not limited to buildings or other structures, mining, dredging, filling, grading, paving, excavation or drilling operations or storage of equipment or materials located within the SFHA.

The intent of the Floodplain Development Permit is to review those activities that will impact the way floodwaters would move through a community and if these proposed changes would negatively impact neighbors or downstream residents. It may seem funny to need a Floodplain Development Permit for paving a driveway, but paving changes the permeability of the ground (water will not be absorbed) and reduces surface friction (water will move faster along this new surface). That is not to say paving your driveway would not be approved, it just has to be looked at and documented so that effects (singular and cumulative) to the entire floodplain can be considered.

Download a copy of the City of Valdez Floodplain Development Permit Application.

In additional to needing a Floodplain Development Permit, development within the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) often requires homeowners to hire a surveyor and submit elevation certificates to the City of Valdez and their lending institutions at various stages of construction. Elevation Certificates are filled out by surveyors who determine the base flood elevation on a property and then measure the elevation of the lowest part of the structure or the elevation of the lowest point of fill or any other elevation that needs to be determined for floodplain development purposes.

Making sure new development has a proper elevation certificate ensures that a house is elevated above the maps estimated flood water elevation – protecting the structure from unreasonable flood risk and likely reducing losses associated with flooding when it does occur. A proper elevation certificate can also reduce insurance costs to homeowners because it should show the structure is above the base flood elevation on the property.

View an example of an Elevation Certificate.

Citizen Preparedness

Preparedness generally refers to a set of actions that are taken as precautionary measures in the face of potential disasters. These actions can include both physical preparations (such as emergency supplies depots, adapting buildings to survive earthquakes and so on) and training for emergency action. It preparedness was a triangle – the Federal Government would be on top, then State Government, then Local Government, than Citizens. There is a reason Citizen preparedness is the base of the pyramid and supports the rest of the structure: Citizen preparedness is the most important!

Preparing your home and your family for any number of disaster situations can be fun and will certainly make things easier and better if a disaster does ever occur in your area. 

Visit the Individual & Family Safety Planning section of the City of Valdez’s Emergency and Disaster Management website for steps to help you become prepared for a disaster.

Visit Ready.gov for preparedness tips for floods and other disasters.

Online Resources

Interested in current stream flow conditions? Stream gages provide real-time streamflow information for a wide variety of uses including flood prediction, water management and allocation, and recreational safety. Check out current streamflow data for the Lowe River, Valdez Glacier Stream, and Solomon Gulch. For streamflow data from around the state, visit the USGS water data website.

Coming soon we will have an interactive online map viewer so that you can identify the mapped flood zones in your area. In the meantime you can enter your address in FEMA’s online mapping tool.

Additional Information

Please contact the Floodplain Manager, Bruce Wall, email Planning Department or  907-834-3401.