January 7, 2009 - The Southwest Florida Water Management District and Pasco County are working together to gather input needed to improve identification of flooding risks in the county.
The information will be used to update area floodplain information and develop preliminary Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). Most of the current FIRMs are 10 to 30 years old and are outdated because of natural and physical changes caused by land use, development and erosion.
The District and the county are holding public meetings to present preliminary floodplain information and explain the basis behind the findings. This information will be used to identify areas of flood risk in the preliminary FIRMs, which are based on watershed boundaries.
A second open house focusing on Pasco County’s East Zephyrhills and Lake Zephyr watersheds will be held Jan. 15, 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the City of Zephyrhills Chambers, which is located at 5335 8th Street in Zephyrhills. The first open house was held Dec. 18.
During the meeting, preliminary models and floodplain information will be presented to the public for review and comment. After addressing the comments, the floodplain information will be finalized and presented to the District’s Governing Board for permission to develop the preliminary FIRMs for submittal to FEMA.
Upon receipt of the preliminary FIRMs, FEMA will begin its FIRM adoption process, which includes:
- A technical review by FEMA
- Review by Pasco County
- Public input
- A 90-day appeals period
Issuance of a letter of final determination that informs Pasco County and the public of the date when the FIRMs will be considered effective
Pasco County anticipates adopting new FIRMs starting next year once the FEMA process is complete. The FEMA process should take nine to 12 months, but based on appeals can take several years.
The floodplain information will be used by the county for land use and zoning decisions, to help manage development in and around floodplains and wetlands, reduce flood risks, preserve land and water resources, and planning for emergencies. It will also provide valuable information to the public for decisions about purchasing and protecting property.
For more information or to find out which watershed you live in, please visit www.WaterMatters.org/floodrisk/ You can also call the District at (352) 796-7211, ext. 4297.
Source: Southwest Florida Water Management District Press Release