Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 10.1. Conservation
Chapter 6. Flood Protection and Dam Safety
4/18/2024

Article 1. Flood Damage Reduction Act.

§ 10.1-600. Definitions.

As used in this article, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Emergency flood insurance program" or "emergency program" means the Emergency Program of the Federal Insurance Administration which provides subsidized flood insurance for potential flood victims, applicable to both new and existing structures, pending completion of applicable actuarial rates which is a prerequisite for eligibility to participate in the regular program.

"Flood hazard area" means those areas susceptible to flooding.

"Flood plain" or "flood-prone areas" means those areas adjoining a river, stream, water course, ocean, bay or lake which are likely to be covered by floodwaters.

"Flood plain management regulations" means zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations, the building code, health regulations, special purpose ordinances such as flood plain ordinances, grading ordinances or erosion control ordinances, and other rules, regulations and ordinances which may affect flood plain uses. The term describes such legally enforceable regulations, in any combination thereof, which provide standards for the control of the use and occupancy of flood-prone areas.

"Hundred year flood" means a flood of that level which on the average will have a one percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year at designated locations.

"Locality" means a county, city, or town.

"National flood insurance program" means the program established by the United States Congress under provisions of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968, as amended, and as expanded in the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, designed to provide flood insurance at rates made affordable through federal subsidy.

"Nonfederal cost" means the flood protection project costs provided by sources other than the federal government.

"Regular flood insurance program" means a program of insurance under the national flood insurance program, for which the Federal Insurance Administrator has issued a flood insurance rate map and applicable actuarial rates, and under which new construction will not be eligible for flood insurance except at the applicable actuarial rates.

1977, c. 310, § 62.1-44.110; 1987, c. 163; 1988, c. 891; 1989, cc. 468, 497.

§ 10.1-601. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1989, cc. 468, 497.

§ 10.1-602. Powers and duties of Department.

The Department shall:

1. Develop a Virginia Flood Protection Master Plan (the Plan) for the Commonwealth. This Plan shall be a place-specific plan for mitigating severe and repetitive flooding and shall, at a minimum, (i) base decision making on the best-available science; (ii) identify and address socioeconomic inequities and strive to enhance equity through the adaptation and protection measures by considering all areas of recurrent flooding; (iii) recognize the importance of protecting and enhancing natural infrastructure and nature-based approaches to flood mitigation, when possible; (iv) utilize community and regional scale planning to the maximum extent possible, seeking region-specific approaches tailored to the needs of individual communities; and (v) include an understanding of fiscal realities and focus on cost-effective solutions for the protection and adaptation of communities, businesses, and critical infrastructure. The Plan shall include, at a minimum:

a. An inventory of flood-prone areas;

b. An inventory of flood protection studies;

c. A record of flood damages;

d. Strategies to prevent or mitigate flood damage; and

e. The collection and distribution of information relating to flooding and flood plain management.

The Plan shall be reviewed and updated by the Department on a regular basis, but at least once every five years, and for each of the items listed in provisions a through e, the plan shall state when that provision was last updated and when the next update is planned. The plan shall be maintained in an online format so as to be easily accessed by other government entities and by the public. The online plan shall contain links to the most current information available from other federal, state, and local sources. All agencies of the Commonwealth shall provide assistance to the Department upon request.

2. Serve as the coordinator of all flood protection programs and activities in the Commonwealth, including the coordination of federal flood protection programs administered by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the United States Geological Survey, the Tennessee Valley Authority, other federal agencies and local governments.

3. Make available flood and flood damage reduction data to localities for planning purposes, in order to assure necessary local participation in the planning process and in the selection of desirable alternatives which will fulfill the intent of this article. This shall include the development of a data base to include (i) all flood protection projects implemented by federal agencies and (ii) the estimated value of property damaged by major floods.

4. Assist localities in their management of flood plain activities in cooperation with the Department of Housing and Community Development.

5. Carry out the provisions of this article in a manner which will ensure that the management of flood plains will preserve the capacity of the flood plain to carry and discharge a hundred year flood.

6. Make, in cooperation with localities, periodic inspections to determine the effectiveness of local flood plain management programs, including an evaluation of the enforcement of and compliance with local flood plain management ordinances, rules and regulations.

7. Coordinate with the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency to ensure current knowledge of the identification of flood-prone communities and of the status of applications made by localities to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.

8. Establish guidelines which will meet minimum requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program in furtherance of the policy of the Commonwealth to assure that all citizens living in flood-prone areas may have the opportunity to indemnify themselves from flood losses through the purchase of flood insurance under the regular flood insurance program of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 as amended.

9. Subject to the provisions of the Appropriations Act, provide financial and technical assistance to localities in an amount not to exceed fifty percent of the nonfederal costs of flood protection projects.

10. Serve as the lead administrator for the Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plan and the Virginia Flood Protection Master Plan.

11. Implement the Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plan and the Virginia Flood Protection Master Plan.

12. Ensure that the Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plan and the Virginia Flood Protection Master Plan are integrated.

1977, c. 310, § 62.1-44.112; 1981, c. 315; 1987, c. 163; 1988, c. 891; 1989, cc. 468, 497; 2015, cc. 172, 251; 2022, cc. 494, 495.

§ 10.1-603. State agency compliance.

A. All agencies and departments of the Commonwealth shall comply with the following when undertaking development activities, including the construction or rehabilitation of buildings and structures, on state-owned property located in a flood plain:

1. Adhere to all local flood plain management regulations as defined in § 10.1-600; or

2. Receive formal approval from the Department regarding compliance with the applicable state standard for development in a flood plain, provided that such standard does not jeopardize a locality's participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.

B. Compliance with the provisions of subsection A shall be documented and provided in the form of a permit by the Department to the applicant prior to preliminary design approval of a project by the Department of General Services, if such approval by the Department of General Services is otherwise applicable. If any changes are made to the preliminary design during the review conducted by the Department of General Services, the Department of General Services will coordinate with the Department to ensure the permit issued is still appropriate.

C. A permit may be issued by the Department if no feasible alternative to development in a flood plain exists. However, such permit shall be issued only if:

1. Issuing the permit will not result in increased flood heights in excess of the state standard, additional threats to public safety, or extraordinary public expense;

2. The development activities, including the construction or rehabilitation of a building or structure, is demonstrated to be a functionally dependent use, such as water treatment facilities, boat houses, fish hatcheries, or other similar uses;

3. The facility is historic and requires repair or rehabilitation and it has been demonstrated that the proposed repair or rehabilitation will not preclude the facility's continued designation as a historic structure and the permit is the minimum necessary to preserve the historic character and design of the facility; or

4. The development activity is demonstrated to be necessary to protect public health, safety, and welfare.

D. If the Department does not issue a permit for a project, the Department of General Services shall not approve such project.

E. The Department shall provide all permits in writing to the applicant and the locality and shall maintain all documentation associated with permits issued by the Department in perpetuity.

F. The Department may enter into a memorandum of understanding with a state agency to outline procedures and processes to review proposed development activities, including the construction or rehabilitation of buildings and structures, on state-owned property located in a flood plain. A memorandum of understanding with a state agency may also establish alternative approvals and processes for compliance with the applicable state standard pursuant to subsection A. Alternative approvals and processes may include the development and issuance of permits by the Department for certain eligible activities.

1977, c. 310, § 62.1-44.108; 1988, c. 891; 1989, cc. 468, 497; 2023, cc. 762, 777.