New Floodplain Rules Would Limit Construction

New Floodplain Rules Would Limit Construction

Your Home Builders Association is digging into a new Executive Order that could have a significant impact on how and where our members develop, build and remodel homes and communities near coasts and rivers.

On Jan. 30, President Obama signed Executive Order (EO) 13690, part of the Administration’s plans to improve climate resiliency as directed by the President’s Climate Action Plan.

It updates a 1977 EO that required federal agencies to do what they could to preserve the nation’s floodplains — areas subject to a 1% chance or greater of flooding in any given year — and limit their development where possible.

The new EO creates a new Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS) for all federally approved or funded projects and significantly expands the areas to be protected. Federal agencies will have three options for establishing the new FFRMS elevation and flood hazard area:

  • Climate-informed Science Approach. Using the best-available data and methods to forecast changes from flooding.
  • Freeboard Value Approach.Adding an additional 2 or 3 feet to the base flood elevation of the 100-year flood (see right).
  • 500-year Elevation Approach. The area subject to flooding by the 0.2%-annual-chance flood.

And while the Administration has stated that the EO is targeted to federally financed projects, your Home Builders Association is concerned that the scope could be much broader: A strict reading implies it could include homes built under FHA and HUD housing programs and the National Flood Insurance Program. And conceivably it could affect permitting under the Clean Water Act — if all waters in floodplains are subject to federal jurisdiction, if the new Waters of the United States definitions are finalized as proposed — and the Endangered Species Act, because the floodplain is identified as critical habitat for many listed species.

The Administration said it wants to hear from those affected by the EO and plans a series of “listening sessions” around the country. The first one will be held in Ames, Iowa on March 3, with additional sessions scheduled through the remainder of the month.

Members can comment in writing, too, and those comments are due April 6. Get details from this Federal Register notice and this FEMA fact sheet.

Flood Management Program is updated for Greenville County

Greenville County, in cooperation with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is updating its flood management program. The updates include:

  • Revising the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM), which include, in some cases, additional limits on construction in certain areas
  • Updating public educational programs which include information on building in flood-prone areas
  • Creating a resource page where property owners may determine if their property is in a floodplain

Greenville County has created a resource page on its Flood Management Program that includes important information about building in flood-prone areas. Click here to visit the Flood Management Program page at

For example, did you know that a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), or floodplain, is defined as having a one percent annual chance of flooding. The standard was chosen as a compromise between the need for building restrictions to minimize potential loss of life and property and the economic benefits to be derived from floodplain development. Development may take place within the SFHA, provided that development complies with local floodplain management ordinances, which must meet the minimum Federal requirements. Flood insurance is required for insurable structures within the SFHA to protect federally funded or federally backed investments and assistance used for acquisition and/or construction purposes within communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Greenville County to host public meeting on new Flood Insurance Rate Maps

Greenville County announced a public meeting on the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps.  Representatives from Greenville County, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be on hand to answer questions.

  • December 14, 2011
  • 4 p.m. until 8 p.m.
  • Greenville County Square, Conference Room A, 301 University Ridge, Greenville SC

New Flood Insurance Maps Announced

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources has announced its schedule for updating Flood Insurance Maps in Greenville County:

  • Preliminary map date: December 30, 2010
  • Final determination date: 10/17/2011
  • Effective date of new maps: 4/17/2012

Pickens County maps were updated on April 16, 2008. Oconee County maps were updated September 11, 2009.

Other neighboring counties are on different timelines. The effective dates for other Upstate counties are:

  • Abbeville: 3/3/2011
  • Cherokee: 6/16/2011
  • Greenwood: 5/3/2011
  • Laurens: 9/29/2011
  • McCormick: 3/17/2011
  • Spartanburg: 1/2/2011
  • Union: 8/1/2011

SCDNR is the state agency that administers the National Flood Insurance Program, and its associated maps and insurance rating systems, in South Carolina.