Floodplain Management Act
Floodplain Management Act
The Pennsylvania Flood Plain Management Act, commonly referred to as Act 166, is a state law requiring compliance with a federal program (NFIP). Its enactment was a result of a growing concern over the increasing loss of life and property damage due to flooding. The main intention of the Act is to regulate new construction/development and major improvements in floodplain areas. Act 166 requires that municipalities identified as having an area or areas subject to flooding to participate in the NFIP by enacting floodplain management regulations that comply with the minimum standards of NFIP, and also with the regulations set forth by the Act which include the standards for special permit activities (nursing homes, hospitals, jails, etc.) and development involving hazardous materials and substances which have been determined to be dangerous to human life. Municipalities are not prohibited from implementing more restrictive floodplain management regulations. Also, the Act only applies to development within the 100 year floodplain which is the land area that has a one percent chance of being flooded in a given year. This area is shown on municipal floodplain maps created by FEMA and can also be referred to as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). Most regulation is achieved through ordinances and the issuance of building permits.
Financial assistance to implement the NFIP is provided with the Act. The General Assembly must appropriate funds to the DCED to reimburse municipalities for 50 percent of the costs of implementing the program. Eligible costs include expenses for preparing, enacting, administering and enforcing regulations pertaining to the program. Municipalities work with the regional DCED office to receive the proper forms for eligibility, and to be reimbursed for expenses. The regional office is:
Southcentral Regional Office
In the event that a municipality with identified floodplains is not complying, it can be placed on probation or suspended by the program. This is done only after FEMA has provided assistance to the community to help it become compliant. Property owners in a municipality that has identified floodplains, but is not participating in the NFIP will not be able to purchase flood insurance through the NFIP. In addition, the municipality will not receive certain types of state and federal financial assistance if it is not participating in the NFIP program.
Flood Insurance Information for Potential Buyers
NFIP coverage is available to all owners of insurable property (a building or its contents) in a community participating in the NFIP according to FEMA. Some restrictions do apply. Owners and renters may insure their personal property against flood loss. Builders of buildings in the course of construction, condominium associations, and owners of residential condominium units in participating communities all may purchase flood insurance. If interested, property owners should contact a community official or an insurance agent to find out if they live in a participating community or refer to this listing online at https://www.fema.gov/cis/PA.html. Flood insurance can then be purchased directly from any licensed property insurance agent or broker who is in good standing. In order to determine if your property is in the Floodway or SFHA (Special Flood Hazard Area), a Flood Insurance Map will need to be consulted. Contact a community official who can check the local floodplain map and usually determine if a property is in the floodway or SFHA. In some cases the property needs to be surveyed in order for a determination to be made.
The regulatory floodway, which is adopted into the community’s floodplain management ordinance, is the stream channel plus that portion of the banks that must be kept free from encroachment in order to discharge the one percent annual chance flood without increasing flood levels by more than one foot. The intention of the floodway is not to preclude development. Rather, it is intended to assist communities in prudently and soundly managing floodplain development and prevents additional damages to other property owners. The community is responsible for prohibiting encroachments, including fill, new construction and substantial improvements, within the floodway unless it has been demonstrated through hydrologic and hydraulic analyses that the proposed encroachment will not increase flood levels within the community. In areas that fall within the one percent annual chance floodplain, but are outside the floodway (termed floodway fringe) development will, by definition, cause no more than a 1.0 foot increase in the one percent annual chance water-surface elevation. Floodplain management through the use of the floodway concept is effective because it allows communities to develop in flood prone areas if they so choose, but limits the future increases of flood hazards to no more than 1.0 foot.
* From: Answers to Questions About the NFIP, FEMA
For more detailed information about the NFIP and flood insurance please visit:
Or visit the Perry County Conservation District Office in New Bloomfield and use the Floodplain Library. The library contains FEMA maps of the 29 municipalities with designated floodplains, and numerous FEMA publications.