Make Sure Your Floodplain Bylaws/Ordinances are Up to Date
If your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you should be aware that the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the state agency that administers the program in Massachusetts, is in the process of reviewing the floodplain bylaws and ordinances of all participating municipalities to ensure that they are in compliance with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regulations.
FEMA administers the NFIP to allow property owners in participating communities to purchase flood insurance. In order to participate or continue participating, a community must adopt local laws that enforce federal floodplain management standards and that incorporate specific requirements of federal law. Importantly, those laws must reference data provided by the Federal Insurance Administrator. To that end, the Administrator issues Flood Insurance Rate Maps delineating zones in a community by flood hazard level. The Administrator periodically updates these maps on a county-by-county basis and provides notice to communities when their map updates are in progress. Currently, Flood Insurance Rate Map revisions are underway for Plymouth County, Norfolk County, and Suffolk County.
The DCR Flood Hazard Management Program is responsible for determining that local regulations comply with the federal requirements. DCR issued a model bylaw in 2020 and has advised that communities revise their floodplain bylaws to conform to the model at their earliest convenience (and, for any community for which FEMA issues a new Flood Insurance Rate Map, by the effective date of the new map). The model floodplain management bylaw, as well as an FAQs describing state requirements and contact information for DCR FHMP staff, are available at https://www.mass.gov/guides/floodplain-management.