Building in a Floodplain

  • In February 1981, Chelan County joined the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Joining NFIP means residents are able to purchase flood insurance, a requirement of mortgages or home equity loans for property located within the floodplain. Residents are also able to buy, sell and build on property within the floodplain.

    In addition, by joining NFIP, the county became eligible to receive disaster assistance from FEMA after a presidentially declared disaster. Since the 1970s, the county has had nine Presidential Disaster Declarations related to flood, severe storm and earthquake hazards.

    As an NFIP member, the county also agreed to enforce federal regulations concerning development within a special flood hazard area shown on FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps. The areas are referred to as the 100-year floodplain.

    Local jurisdictions such as Chelan County must issue permits for all development in its flood-prone areas. This ensures that development is regulated so property damage is limited and property owners do not adversely impact other property owners by their actions. Chelan County Code Chapter 3.20 regulates the use and development of property within flood hazard areas in the unincorporated areas.

    A Floodplain Development Permit is required prior to beginning any development within the 100-year flood. Development includes any manmade change to improved or unimproved real estate, including, but not limited to, digging, grading, filling, paving, drilling, mining, storing equipment or materials, or construction.

    Common activities that may require a permit include:

    The construction or addition of small storage sheds

    Remodeling of a home’s interior

    Construction of some fences

    Enclosing an open-sided structure

    Cutting down trees to make room for future development

    Landscaping activities, such as building of retaining walls or raised beds

    Installation of propane tanks


    Prior to beginning any development, landowners must apply for a Floodplain Development Permit from Chelan County Community Development.


    Frequently Asked Questions

    The Floodplain Development Review Process