Floodplain management

FEMA defines Floodplain management as the operation of a community program of preventive and corrective measures to reduce the risk of current and future flooding, resulting in a more resilient community.

While FEMA has minimum floodplain management standards for communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), best practices demonstrate the adoption of higher standards which will lead to safer, stronger, more resilient communities. 

The National Flood Insurance Program is founded on a mutual agreement between the Federal government and each participating community. Local, State, and Federal governments, and private insurance companies must share roles and responsibilities to meet the goals and objectives of the NFIP.

Local Government

The community enacts and implements the floodplain regulations required for participation in the NFIP. The community’s measures must meet regulations set by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, as well as NFIP criteria. A participating community commits itself to:

  • Adopting and enforcing a floodplain management ordinance.
  • Issuing or denying floodplain development/building permits.
  • Inspecting all development to assure compliance with the local ordinance and citing violations.
  • Assuring that building sites are reasonably safe from flooding.
  • Maintaining records of floodplain development.
  • Making flood maps and elevation and floodproofing certificates available for public inspection.
  • Assisting in the preparation and revision of floodplain maps and advising FEMA when updates to floodplain maps are needed.
  • Helping residents obtain information on flood hazards, floodplain map data, flood insurance, and proper construction measures.
  • Cooperating with neighboring communities’ floodplain management activities.
  • Designating an agency or official as a floodplain administrator that is to be responsible for implementing the community’s commitments.

State Government

Each governor has selected a State coordinating agency for the NFIP. In Illinois, it is the Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Water Resources. IDNR/OWR is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that communities have the legal authorities necessary to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations.
  • Establishing minimum State regulatory requirements consistent with the NFIP.
  • Providing technical and specialized assistance to local governments.
  • Coordinating the activities of various State agencies that affect the NFIP.

In addition to IDNR’s role, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) coordinates flood warning and response activities and several flood hazard mitigation programs.

Federal Government

FEMA administers the NFIP through its Regional Offices. There are 10 Regional Offices, each with a Mitigation Division that coordinates the NFIP with states and communities. Region V covers the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The Regional Office is responsible for:

  • Assisting the State NFIP coordinating agencies.
  • Assessing community compliance with the minimum NFIP criteria.
  • Advising local officials responsible for administering the ordinance.
  • Answering questions from design professionals and the public.
  • Helping review and adopt new maps and data.
  • Administering the Hazard Mitigation Grant and Hazard Mitigation Assistance Programs.
  • Providing information and training on the flood insurance purchase requirements.

FEMA sets national policy for floodplain regulations, researches floodplain construction practices and administers the flood hazard mapping program. In addition, FEMA administers the insurance portion of the program. It sets flood insurance rates, establishes coverage, monitors applications and claims, and markets flood insurance.