Limit floodplain development to reduce community risk

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Limiting or prohibiting floodplain development is one of the most effective ways to reduce community risk and damage from flooding. 

Without free access to accurate flood information, more Americans will unknowingly be at risk from the nation’s costliest natural disaster. makes flood risk data freely available for all, individuals and communities can prepare for and mitigate risks before they become a reality. 

About limited floodplain development

Floodplain ordinances can limit or prohibit development in flood-prone areas to help reduce the number of homes and businesses at risk of flooding. Limiting the development of floodplains is one of the most effective ways to lower a community’s flood risk and reduce future damage. If local rules and regulations limit or prohibit development in flood-prone areas, there will be fewer buildings at risk of damage when floodwaters rise.  

Many communities adopt and implement the minimum floodplain management standards required for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). FEMA estimates that local adoption of these standards has saved the nation more than $100 billion over the last 40 years. Some of the key components of these standards include provisions that communities:

  • Require permits for development in the 1% annual chance floodplain, also known as the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA);
  • Require elevation of the lowest floor of all new residential buildings in the SFHA to be at or above the projected height of floodwaters in the 1% annual chance of flood
  • Restrict development in the regulatory floodway to limit the increasing risk of flooding
  • Require certain construction materials and methods that minimize future flood damage

For communities interested in further reducing their flood risk, the NFIP’s Community Rating System (CRS) offers flood insurance discounts to communities that adopt stronger regulations to limit floodplain development.  


Photo by South Florida Water Management District

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