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Energy and Environment Cabinet

Division of Water

Division of Water
Floodplain Construction

Information on obtaining a permit to construct along a stream, applicable statutes and regulations, publications and contact information.

Surface Water Permits Branch, Floodplain Management Section

Picture of Goose CreekThe Floodplain Management Section has the primary responsibility for the approval or denial of proposed construction and other activities in the 100-year floodplain of all streams in the Commonwealth. Typical activities permitted are dams, bridges, culverts, residential and commercial buildings, placement of fill, stream alterations or relocations, small impoundments and water and wastewater treatment plants.

In addition, activities that result in physical disturbances to wetlands or streams may also require a Water Quality Certification Permit.

The process for obtaining a permit begins with the submittal of a completed application with a location map, plans of the proposed construction and the addressing of public notice. If there is existing flood data on the proposed site (i.e., National Flood Insurance Program flood maps, Corps of Engineers flood studies or previous permit data), then a permit review may begin. If there is no existing data, the submittal of survey information is required in order to perform an in-house flood study of the area.

The Application for Permit to Construct Across or Along a Stream is available here. This is a PDF document and requires Acrobat Reader for viewing. If you do not have Acrobat Reader, download it free here.

Section engineers use the Corps of Engineers HEC-2 and HEC-RAS computer programs to analyze the effects of the proposed construction on existing flood conditions. Use of this program (or flood studies if they are available) enables the establishment of expected 100-year flood heights and the delineation of the floodway (a portion of the floodplain that is restricted to little or no construction). From this analysis, construction limits for fills and buildings and required elevations for finished floors or floodproofing can be provided. For all construction, especially bridges and culverts, a check is made to ensure that the project has only minimal impacts on existing flood levels. Regulations limit the effect to a maximum of 1 foot. If the proposed project is unacceptable based on the review, the applicant is sent a denial letter with possible options.

If the reviewer determines the project meets regulatory requirements and all deficiencies have been corrected and all necessary modifications to the drawings have been made, a draft permit is written to be reviewed by the supervisor and branch manager. If they concur that the proposal meets all state floodplain laws, regulations and standards, the permit is prepared and signed. Appropriate requirements and limitations are listed on the permit. The permit also bears the condition that construction must begin within one year of the date of signature. If objections to the project have been raised, letters to those objecting are also sent with instructions as to their rights for a hearing under the statutes.

The Floodplain Management Section will notify the applicant, in writing, within 20 working days from the date of receipt of the completed application whether the permit will be approved or denied. If deficiencies are noted in the application, the applicant will be notified of them. The 20-day time period does not begin until a complete application package is submitted.

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