Stormwater Division

Floodplain Frequently Asked Questions

What is a "100-year flood"?
Am I really at risk for flooding?  I don’t live near the river.
How do I know if my property is in a floodplain?

Does My Home Owner’s or Commercial Structure Insurance Policy Cover Damage Caused by Flooding?
Why are there floodplains and what’s the benefit for having them?

Can I build in the Floodplain?
Flood Terminology

 What is a "100-year flood"?
The term "100-year flood" is very misleading. People tend to believe that it happens only once every 100 years. The truth is that an uncommonly big flood can happen any year, even multiple times in a single year. The term "100-year flood" is really a statistical designation saying there is a 1-in-100 chance that a large damaging flood will happen during any year. A better term would be the "1-in-100 chance flood” or One percent chance of flooding annually.

Am I really at risk for flooding?  I don’t live near the river.
Eighty percent of all disasters declared in the United States are caused by floods. To relate it better to home and business owners, many mortgages have a repayment period of 30 years. Buildings in areas that are in or are very close to a 100-year flood plain have a 26 percent chance of experiencing a flood during the life of the loan. However, during that same period, there is only a 4 percent chance of a fire.

In the past 20 years, most of the areas in the City affected by flooding are not in designated floodplain areas.

Event

Odds of Occurring:

Structure in the   100-year floodplain being flooded in any given year

1 in 100

Matching 1 number plus   the Powerball in the Powerball lottery

1 in 124

Structure in the   500-year floodplain being flooded in any given year

1 in 500

Annual chance of being   killed in a car accident if you drive 10,000 miles a year

1 in 4,000

Being struck by   lightning

1 in 600,000

Winning the Powerball   lottery jackpot (matching 5 numbers plus the Powerball)

1 in 120,526,770

 

How do I know if my property is in a floodplain?
There are several major drainage ways that traverse the city from the Arkansas River to various creeks and irrigation ditches as well as areas in floodplains where no apparent watercourse exists. To find out whether your property is in a floodplain, contact the Engineering Department for a determination.

Does My Home Owner’s or Commercial Structure Insurance Policy Cover Damage Caused by Flooding?
The answer is NO. Typical homeowner’s and commercial structure insurance policies do not cover flood damages. A separate Standard Flood Insurance Policy is required to cover damages caused by surface water during a flood event.  Buildings located within a 100-year flood plain are required to have flood insurance if they are financed with federally a backed mortgage or home equity loan. Flood policies can be issued for most structures and their contents, including site built, modular and manufactured single family homes, condominiums and commercial structures.  Cañon City participates in the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS) program. Because of this, citizens are eligible to purchase Standard Flood Insurance at a reduced rate. The average premium for a Standard Flood Insurance Policy in Cañon City varies. A 30 day waiting period is mandatory for new flood insurance policies. Your local insurance agent can provide information on specific rates and coverage.

It is important to know that you do not have to be located within the 100 year flood zone to qualify for a flood policy. Flood zones are always changing due to natural events and upstream development. It is recommended that if there is a potential for flooding in your area, you should take advantage of a Standard Flood Insurance Policy. http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program

Why are there floodplains and what’s the benefit for having them?
One of the most important natural functions of the floodplain is to store runoff during and immediately after large rain events. Sometimes there is too much storm water runoff for creek and stream channels to effectively handle. Too much water flow can breech the banks. The floodplain allows the water flow to low down and spread out. Eventually the water will dissipate back into the streams and rivers.  Slowing the water down and storing it in the floodplain helps decrease erosion and reduces flooding effects downstream. A large undisturbed area provides natural plant and animal habitat. Storm water is also filtered in these areas which improves quality of our drinking water.  Community parks and common open space in subdivisions often occupy areas of the floodplain.  Floodplain land can be used for recreation during non-flood periods with minimal disturbance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPdSlp0Lcyk&feature=youtu.be

Can I build in the Floodplain?
Cañon City allows limited development in certain areas of the floodplain. A floodplain development permit is required for all development within the 100 year floodplain. This includes construction or repair of buildings or additions, land disturbing activities, construction of bridges or stream crossings, or stream restoration. You can secure a floodplain development permit at the Cañon City Engineering Department, located at 128 Main Street, Cañon City, CO. If substantial damage occurs to existing structures, substantial improvement would be required. Substantial damage is damage of any origin to a structure where the cost of restoration to it’s before damage condition would equal or exceed 50 percent of the market value before the damage occurred. Substantial improvement is any combination of repairs, reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement of a structure, taking place during any one-year period for which the cost equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the "start of construction" of the improvement. Additions or improvements less than 50% of the market still require compliance with the minimum flood prevention requirements. Prior to any work being done, you should contact the Cañon City Engineering Department at 719-269-9011, to discuss your project. Development within the 100-year floodplain requires an elevation certificate to be completed. Construction or land disturbing activity in the 100-year flood zone is illegal without the proper local, state and, sometimes, federal permits. You can report any suspected illegal activity to the zoning office.

Flood Terminology
Floodplain: A floodplain is a land area adjacent to a river, stream, lake, estuary, or other water body that is subject to flooding. This area, if left undisturbed, acts to store excess floodwater.

100-Year Flood: The 100-year flooding event is the flood having a 1 percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in magnitude in any given year. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a flood occurring once every 100 years.

100-Year Floodplain: The 100-year floodplain is the area adjoining a river, stream, or watercourse covered by water in the event of a 100-year flood.

Floodway: The floodway is one of two main sections that make up the floodplain. Floodways are defined for regulatory purposes.  The floodway is the channel of a river or other watercourse and adjacent land areas that must be reserved in order to discharge the base flood without cumulatively increasing the water surface elevation more than a designated height. The floodway carries the bulk of the floodwater downstream and is usually the area where water velocities and forces are the greatest.

Flood Fringe: The flood fringe refers to the outer portions of the floodplain, beginning at the edge of the floodway and continuing outward. This is the area where development is most likely to occur, and where precautions to protect life and property need to be taken.

Development: For floodplain ordinance purposes, means any man-made change in improved and 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. The definition of development or floodplain purposes is generally broader and includes more activities than the definition of development used in other sections of local land use ordinances.

Base Flood Elevation (BFE): The term "Base Flood Elevation" refers to the elevation (measured in feet above sea level) that the 1% annual flood (100-year flood) is expected to reach.