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All Things Floodplain

The Virginia Floodplain Management Association (VFMA), VA DCR, and FEMA Region 3 hosted a Floodplain Ordinance Implementation seminar in Henrico County on February 1. The event addressed a variety of topics including floodplain ordinance authorization, floodplain administrator responsibilities, substantial damage/improvement, and permitting development in the special flood hazard area.

There were approximately 40 people in the room from across the state representing various departments: public works, planning, emergency management, etc. We had some lively discussion on the definition of “all development,” the challenges with enforcement, and the additional guidance/support we’d like to see from FEMA. As an environmental engineer studying to earn the Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) credential, I attended and took as many notes as possible. Luckily, the hosts graciously provided the list of online resources shared below. The VFMA website ( is THE place to learn about upcoming local workshops as well as the Virginia Water Conference in Richmond, VA, March 4-6, 2018. The conference, cosponsored by the Virginia Lakes and Watersheds Association (VLWA), is an excellent opportunity to learn about current local, state, and federal regulations and practices in floodplain management.

Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) website offers a model floodplain ordinance and Local Floodplain Management Directory. The Virginia Flood Risk Information System (VFRIS) pulls together mapping data from FEMA, the Fish and Wildlife Service, Esri GIS, and the Virginia Geographic Information System for use in locating properties and various flood zones. Information on Dam Safety and Floodplain Management Grants (opened February 9!) is also available. DCR maintains a calendar of upcoming events.

The Federal Emergency Management Association’s website offers a draft permit policy document (note that this is currently under revision) and the National Flood Hazard Layer FIRMette Builder. The FIRMette Builder is a compilation of Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) databases for the National Flood Insurance Program that allows you to print official maps for regulatory purposes. FEMA also offers the Substantial Damage Estimator (SDE) Tool online. DCR and FEMA are hosting a training on the SDE Tool on March 1 (Richmond area) and March 2 (Roanoke area) – keep an eye on the VFMA or DCR websites for registration details.

If you’re interested in joining me for the Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) exam on March 6 in Richmond, visit the Association of State Floodplain Managers website (VFMA’s parent organization) for the details on the application process and fees.

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