Understanding Floodplains for Your Property

When it comes to stormwater management on your property, it’s essential to not only evaluate your site – but also to look at the surrounding land. If there is a floodplain or water source nearby, then you need a good water management system in place to prevent a property flood. Not only is water management an important element for building code, but these proactive steps also help you avoid many issues in the future.

What Is a Floodplain?

A flat area near a natural water source, such as a stream or a river, is known as a floodplain. The floodplain is located from the riverbanks and then out to the edges of the valley.

There are two parts of a floodplain: 

  1. Floodway: The main channel where the river is flowing, known as the floodway. Water can be running through the floodway all year long. Sometimes, the floodway is seasonal if water is only running for part of the year and the channel is dry at other times in the year.
  2. Flood Fringe: The second part of a floodplain is the flood fringe, which extends from the banks of the floodway to the edges of the river valley (known as the bluff lines or valley walls). This is the point where the valley floor starts to increase in elevation and move into the bluffs.

Knowing if your property is in or near a floodplain is important because there is likely an increased risk of flooding. \ So, if you are in high-risk flood zones, you should look into stormwater management services and drainage options, and ask your insurance agent about flood insurance rate maps to see how your rates will be affected. Additionally, you should also look into what systems your municipality has in place to manage water to see if it is even an issue. This will also allow you to see if there is something you’re able to do on your property to mitigate any possible issues.

How Are Floodplains Formed?

Floodplains develop naturally, and two main things are involved in this process. First, erosion can play a role because the soil in the area is worn away with the movement of the water coming through the floodway. As the river curves from side to side, it erodes the earth and carves its path over time.

The second way floodplains are formed is through aggradation (also known as alluviation). With this process, earth material can build up over time because sediments are deposited by the river. So, the land elevation can increase slightly as the sediment is accumulating. Typically, this occurrence happens when the river is shallow and wide. For example, it’s common for these types of rivers to have deltas.

Because floodplains can change over time, the flood elevations can also shift depending on what is happening with the river. The conditions are different from one year to the next, depending on how much rain and snow is coming down in the local area as well as upriver.

Currently formed floodplains create a special flood hazard area, especially since the conditions can change based on the time of year. So, any property owners in the area must be diligent about stormwater management to prevent water damage and other associated issues.

How Does a Floodplain Work?

As the water moves through the area, the river or stream adjusts the layout of the soil and sediment. Floodplains work by flattening the area overall while meandering back and forth to create natural curves where the water is flowing. This is why if you look at a river in a flat area, you can see the s-shape of the river as it moves from side to side.

Floodplains are constantly evolving based on the amount of water and the way the water is moving through the area. If your property is near a floodplain and you feel like the water is far away, it’s still essential to be proactive about stormwater management because the conditions can change at any time. The risk of flooding is always higher for buildings in a floodplain compared to properties at higher elevations.

Types of Properties That Have or Need Floodplains

If you know that your property is near a flat area in the valley or there are floodplains around, then it’s essential to look at requirements and floodplain management. Stormwater management systems are an excellent investment because they can control and move the water if a storm comes in. 

You can look at maps of flood zone designations to see how much risk there is in your local area. Most property owners don’t have training or expertise in stormwater management, so the best solution is to consult with an experienced contractor about your location and the potential risk you are facing. Then, a water management system can be designed and installed, giving you the peace of mind that you can control the flooding if it occurs.

The Benefits of Floodplains

Even though there is a moderate risk of flooding for properties in floodplain areas, there are undeniable benefits from these natural features. Some of these floodplain benefits include:

  • Water Management: Floodplains work by storing flood water and slowing the runoff, which can help prevent the water from running to different locations. So, there is natural erosion and flood control in place.
  • Environmental Protection: The natural formation of floodplains helps to protect wildlife and fish in the area. These animals are protected and live in an environment that is ideal for their unique needs.
  • Recreational Activities: Often, floodplains provide an excellent location for fun recreational opportunities, such as bird watching, fishing, and even boating (depending on the depth of the water). 
  • Ground Water: Because of the way floodplains manage the water, it has a positive impact on recharging the groundwater.

Stormwater Management Is Important – Mikula Can Help

What questions do you have about stormwater management for your property? Mikula Contracting is here to help! We’ll evaluate your site, determine flooding risk, and offer suggestions to create the ideal stormwater management system for your unique needs. We have experience with both residential drainage and commercial drainage projects. Reach out to schedule a consultation and learn more about these professional services.

Related Posts