Richmond VA > Public Utilities > Floodplain Program

Last Updated: 2017-11-09

What Causes Flooding?

  • Heavy rainfall and large storms can cause flooding events. Excessive amounts of rainfall can happen at any time of the year. Flooding causes high risk to people and properties.
  • Flash floods, a rapid flooding of low-lying areas caused by intense rainfall or thunderstorms can tear out trees and destroy building and bridges.
  • Snow melt can produce large amounts of runoff because the ground is frozen and hard. Water cannot penetrate and be reabsorbed into the ground and produces excess water to runoff taking pollutants and debris with it.
  • New development can change the amount of impervious area that does not absorb the rain and stormwater runoff. This increase in water running across the surface of the ground can cause streams and rivers to become overtopped when historically it did not before the new buildings and parking lots were built.
  • Blocked inlets can become clogged debris from trash, sediment, cigarette butts, leaves and lawn clippings. Inlets full of trash reduces their capacity to take the stormwater away and can cause flooding, driving hazards and property damage even during small rain events.
  • It is important you know your level of risk and protect yourself, your family and your property.

The Floodplain

What is a floodplain?

A floodplain is a natural low lying area next to a river or stream. A floodplain helps spread out and slow down the water during rain events. It is an important part of our water system and effects water quality, wildlife habitat, and stormwater runoff. Building or alterations in the floodplain can cause detrimental effects both upstream and downstream.

Can I build in a floodplain?

Building in the floodplain is discouraged in the City. There are strict guidelines before development can occur in the floodplain. All areas of the City have flood elevation protection requirements. Alterations to existing development requires flood proofing to protect from property damage during flooding events. It is important to know that any residential development in the floodplain will be required to carry flood insurance.

To find out more about building in a floodplain, please contact the Water Resources Division at (804)646-7586.

How Can I Protect my Property?

If you build in a floodplain or purchase a property in the floodplain and carry a mortgage, you may be required by your lender to carry flood insurance. Flood insurance is not included in your property insurance. Only the NFIP provides flood insurance. In the state of Virginia it is the property owner's responsibility to find out if a structure is in the floodplain.

Flood Insurance

The City of Richmond participates in the national Flood Insurance Program and has Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) of floodplains within the city. Under this program, federally insured or regulated institutions must require flood insurance policies on all new loans for structures in mapped special flood hazard areas (SFHA) recognized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

To find out more about building in a floodplain, please contact the Water Resources Division at (804)646-7586.

RVA Impact Map displays projects (i.e. gas, water, paving, etc.), events (i.e. parades, races, block parties, etc.) and right of way impacts (i.e. detours, partial and full lane closures, barricades, parking restrictions, etc.) as an interactive map for informational and navigational purposes. Data displayed is refreshed as changes are made.

Contact Information:

Public Utilities
City of Richmond
900 E. Broad St.,
Room 115
Richmond, VA
23219 USA
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Phone: (804)646-4646
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