Sunday, May 22, 2011
Lands in Need of Protection: Floodplains and Wetlands
Floodplains are broad, flat, flood-prone lands adjacent to creeks. They are inherently hazardous and costly locations in which to build and where development should be limited. Federal, State and local agencies have established various and legal requirements, public policies and guidelines to manage activities in flood-prone areas. Standards for Forsyth County are included in the Unified Development Ordinances.
In 2008, revised floodplain regulations and FEMA Flood Maps were adopted by the City and County. The revision to the regulations included a one foot increase in freeboard (the height above flood level) used to determine the “Regulatory Flood Protection Elevation”. This elevation is now determined to be the “Base Flood Elevation” (BFE) plus two feet of freeboard. If the BFE has not been established, the Regulatory Flood Protection Elevation is determined to be two feet about the highest adjacent grade. This revision not only improves flood management but also potentially reduces the cost of flood insurance to the property owner.
There have been discussions by City Council about reducing the area of encroachment within the “floodway fringe” from 50% to 15%. However, no action has taken place beyond this discussion.
Wetlands are defined as areas inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs or similar areas and are defined by soil type. When developing areas that include wetlands, a permit must be obtained from the N.C. Division of Water Quality.