About DCR
State Parks
Soil and Water
Dam Safety and

Floodplain management ordinances

In developing floodplain management ordinances, participating communities must at least meet minimum regulatory standards in Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulation (44 CFR) and administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) standards and policies are reviewed periodically and revised when appropriate. When such administrative changes are made or when flood insurance rate maps (FIRMs) are updated, community floodplain management ordinances also must be revised and updated accordingly.

Community participation in the NFIP is voluntary. When a community joins the NFIP, the community must ensure that its adopted floodplain management ordinance and enforcement procedures meet NFIP requirements. The NFIP requires that the community ordinances be legally enforceable and uniformly applied throughout the community.

The NFIP is a federal program that is implemented on a local level. Localities have the authority and responsibility to properly manage development in the floodplain.

When a community chooses to join the NFIP, it must adopt and enforce minimum floodplain management standards. In return, the federal government makes flood insurance available for almost every building and its contents within the community. Floodplain management requirements within the special flood hazard area (SFHA) are designed to prevent new development from increasing the flood threat and to protect new and existing buildings from anticipated flood events. Floodplain districts described in the ordinance must include all the different SFHAs on the community’s FIRM, and the corresponding requirements from 44 CFR:

  • Un-mapped (60.3a).
  • Floodplain boundaries only (60.3b).
  • Floodplain boundaries with elevations (60.3c).
  • Floodplain boundaries with elevations and delineated floodways (60.3d).
  • Floodplain boundaries with elevations and coastal high hazard areas (60.3e).

In developing floodplain management ordinances, participating communities must meet or exceed the regulatory standards issued by FEMA.

In February 2014, DCR developed the document Guidance for Local Floodplain Ordinances in Virginia. It contains reference information to help communities satisfy the minimum requirements, suggestions for higher standards and a model ordinance that a community can customize. The model ordinance addresses the SFHAs that might be on a community’s FIRM and complies with NFIP requirements. A community can customize the model by “plugging in” the community name, administrator title, FIRM date, etc., and the community’s adopted ordinance will be in compliance with the NFIP requirements. DCR can help localities with the process.

Those with questions about the ordinance should contact the Virginia Floodplain Management Program staff: 804-371-6135, Charley.Banks@dcr.virginia.gov; or 804-786-6523, Gina.DiCicco@dcr.virginia.gov.