National Flood Insurance Program
The U.S Congress established the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) with the passage of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968. The NFIP is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and enables property owners in participating communities to purchase insurance as protection against flood losses in exchange for state and community floodplain management regulations that reduce future flood damages.
In California, approximately 99 percent of California communities participate in the NFIP. Of the participating communities, approximately 18 percent participate in the Community Rating System (CRS) Program, which encourages communities to go above and beyond minimum NFIP requirements.
DWR, on behalf of FEMA, conducts Community Assistance Visits (CAVs) and Community Assistance Contacts (CACs) to each of the NFIP communities to provide individual technical assistance. DWR provides statewide NFIP workshops that are designed to interpret and explain the NFIP regulations and to give an overview of the need for community-based floodplain management.
The "National Flood Insurance Program in California Quick Guide" and the "Quick Guide for Coastal Communities" will help you understand more about why and how communities in California manage floodplains to protect people and property. Copies of these two publications may be requested by sending an email to: DWR_NFIP@water.ca.gov.
Flood-prone communities adopt ordinances that detail the rules and requirements for floodplain development. In case of conflicts, the community’s ordinance and/or building codes and not the Quick Guide, must be followed. If you have questions, be sure to talk with your local planning, permit, engineering, or floodplain management officials.
The Community Assistance Visit (CAV) is a major component of the NFIP's Community Assistance Program (CAP). Staff from FEMA or from a state agency on behalf of FEMA visits a community to provide technical assistance to the community and assure that the community is adequately enforcing its floodplain management regulations. In California, the CAV is either performed by staff from FEMA Region IX or from the Department of Water Resources.
A CAV consists of a tour of the floodplain, an inspection of community permit files, and meetings with local appointed and elected officials. FEMA and DWR workshops also assist community officials to learn how to comply with NFIP requirements. We will work with the community to help bring their program into compliance with NFIP requirements. In extreme cases where the community does not take action to bring itself into compliance, FEMA may initiate an enforcement action against the community.
We provide assistance to communities and their constituents in the form of floodplain information. We work to increase awareness for individuals exposed to the perils of flooding and about the importance for good floodplain management programs at the individual level as well as at all governmental levels. Assistance can be provided in the form of outreach, education, providing general information, or site visits to assist for specific issues. DWR has floodplain management specialists in each of our regional offices to answer questions. DWR has floodplain management specialists in each of our regional offices to answer questions.
DWR and FEMA conduct workshops for floodplain management agencies, including State and local officials. The workshops allow floodplain management officials to have a greater understanding of FEMA's minimum regulation requirements and how to meet them. DWR is scheduling the following workshops for 2018. Visit our registration page for a list of upcoming classes.
Intended Audience: Consulting engineers and surveyors, floodplain administrators, building, planning, and public works staff from communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program
- Elevation certificate purpose and definitions;
- Special Flood Hazard Area Zones;
- How to use the Flood Insurance Rate Map;
- Determining lowest floor;
- Completion of the New FEMA elevation certificate
Intended Audience: Floodplain administrators, government officials and building, planning, and public works staff from communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program
- Federal role/state role/community role,
- Floodplain management vs. flood control,
- Duties of the local administrator,
- NFIP compliance,
- FEMA elevation certificate,
- Substantial improvement and substantial damage,
- Technical standards,
- Map reading & maintenance,
- Flood insurance
Intended Audience: Floodplain managers with more than 2 years of experience, local community officials and other NFIP stakeholders seeking a CFM® designation.
Workshop Topics: This one day workshop is designed as a review course of basic floodplain management principles for those who are considering taking the examination to become Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM®). This full-day review is not a replacement for studying for the exam. Attendees should not expect to complete this workshop and pass the CFM® exam without additional study. Suggested additional materials to study, for those intending to become a CFM®, can be found on the Association for State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) website . Attendance at this course is not a guarantee of passing the CFM® exam. Additional training is provided by FEMA through the Emergency Management Institute (EMI).
Intended Audience: Floodplain administrators, engineers, engineering technicians, and consultant engineers that have a thorough knowledge of the NFIP regulations.
- NFIP regulations for Zone A;
- Sources of existing Base Flood Elevations;
- Development of Base Flood Elevations – simplified method (contour interpolation and data extrapolation method) and detailed methods;
- Quick-2 program example
Intended Audience: Floodplain administrators, building, planning, and public works staff from communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program, and consulting engineers and surveyors
- Purpose and definition of substantial improvement;
- Determining improvement costs and estimating market values of structures;
- Rehabilitations, additions, and reconstruction of structures;
- Recommended procedures;
- Post-disaster considerations and increased cost of compliance coverage
DWR developed California Model Floodplain Management Ordinances and accompanying Instructions and Notes as tools to help communities meet the minimum requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Also, DWR has also developed General Instructions for Higher Standards for Floodplain Management, along with guidance for specific higher standards. Communities choosing not to use a model ordinance must ensure their floodplain management ordinance meets the minimum requirements of the NFIP. Request copies of the ordinances, instructions, and other guidance by sending an email to DWR_NFIP@water.ca.gov.
- Association of State of Floodplain Managers
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- FEMA Flood Map Service Center FAQs
- FEMA Map Service Center
- Flood Hazard Mapping: Frequently Asked Questions
- Floodplain Management Association
- How to Buy Flood Insurance
- National Flood Hazard Layer Viewer
- Questions and Answers about the NFIP
- FEMA Planner and DWR Floodplain Management Specialist contact information
- Model ordinance files
- Upcoming training information
Note: The ordinance files are being updated to meet ADA requirements and will be posted on this site when the process is complete.