Flood Map Modernization

Important Nationwide Initiative
In the United States and in Arizona, flooding is the number one natural disaster. To identify flood hazards, the risks they pose to people and property, and the regulatory boundaries of floodplains, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) develops flood hazard maps, officially known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps or FIRMS.

In 2003, FEMA embarked on a comprehensive, 5 year initiative to update the nation’s flood maps to reflect current flood risks, working with local governments, water districts, and other partners. The new maps are digital, rather than paper-based, and easily viewable online. Today, Flood Map Modernization (or Map Mod) is transforming the way flood maps are created, viewed and used.

Need for Updating Flood Maps
The county’s current flood hazard data date from the early 1970s and are seriously out of date. Drainage patterns have changed dramatically due to land use, surface erosion, and other natural forces. As a result, the likelihood of riverine and flash flooding in some areas has increased significantly. Moreover, the technology used to estimate risk has been much improved. Up-to-date maps will much more accurately represent the risk of flooding, they are an important tool to in the effort to protect lives and properties in Santa Cruz County.

Map Modernization Efforts in Santa Cruz County
The Santa Cruz DFIRM and Flood Map Modernization Project is a comprehensive effort to remap County flood risks using the latest flood modeling and digital mapping technologies. The Santa Cruz County Flood Control District became a FEMA Cooperating Technical Partner (CTP) to ensure local input into the process. This has allowed the district to have a direct hand in not only the hiring of firms to perform the engineering studies and develop the maps, but also in the process of informing the public.

Stantec Consulting, Inc. of Tucson, AZ performed the engineering work and FEMA had Map IX-Mainland (a consortium of engineering companies) review the results to ensure they met FEMA’s strict standards. FEMA has contracted with Michael Baker Corp to perform the Post-Preliminary processing of the maps. Outreach is being conducted directly by the District.

Digital Details
The new digital flood maps will provide detailed, property-specific flood risk data to guide construction and flood insurance decisions. With new maps effective December 2, 2011, Santa Cruz County residents and business owners will have up-to-date, reliable, Internet-accessible data about the flood hazards they face.

Modernization Milestones
  • December - March 2009
    • Ninety-day public comment period
    • Appeals and protests must be filed during this time
  • Spring - Summer 2009
    • Review and resolution of appeals and protests by FEMA
  • December 2009
    • Maps revised based upon accepted appeals and protests
  • January - March 2010
    • Second 90-day public reviews and comment period
  • April - June 2010
    • Review and resolution of appeals and protests by FEMA
  • June 2011
    • Final Maps issued by FEMA with Letter of Final Determination
    • County and communities have 6 months to adopt the new flood maps
  • December 2, 2011
    • New digital flood maps become effective