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Unincorporated Boulder County Sees Flood Insurance Cuts Thanks To Mitigation

courtesy of Boulder County
Insurance rates are going down because of Boulder County's flood mitigation work, like this sign erected after the 2013 flood.

The cost of flood insurance for thousands of properties in unincorporated Boulder County is going down for the next 5 years. For homeowners within the 100 year floodplain, the average savings will be $470 per year.  

“Boulder County is part of the National Flood Insurance Program and part of that is the community rating system,” said Stacey Proctor, a project manager for Boulder County’s Transportation Department.

Boulder County has been part of the CRS rating program since the early 90s. Proctor said the program “incentivizes communities to go above and beyond the minimum requirements,” getting them to look at flood plains comprehensively. Community flood insurance rates are set based on the CRS rating, which communities can improve in a variety of ways. As long as the county can keep it's current rating during an annual review, the insurance rates will be disounted. 

“Outreach to the community about flood risk or the work of our Office of Emergency Management, the flood warning system, the plans they have in place, the extensive amount of parks and open space in Boulder County, knowing that we’re not going to be building in those areas, that really reduces our flood risk and leads to our rate reductions,” Proctor said.

The rate reductions will happen automatically as private policies are renewed in unincorporated Boulder County.

“Any structures located in the 100 year floodplain will receive a 25 percent discount. All other structures will receive a 10 percent discount.”

Credit Colorado Water Conservation Board
Colorado Water Conservation Board
Updating or creating new floodplain maps involves extensive work including surveying, creating terrain models from updated topographic datasets, evaluating hydrology (flows), and modeling to produce flood hazard area limits reflecting the changed conditions since the 2013 flood. This map shows the progress made so far.

Determining which properties are considered within the 100 year floodplain will be based on maps made before the 2013 flood. The Colorado Water Conservation Board is in the process of redrawing the floodplain maps after the significant changes in many waterways that resulted from the 2013 flood. According to Boulder County, drafts of new floodplain maps may be ready to review in summer 2016, followed by a public comment process before the maps are adopted as part of the Land Use Code.

According to the county website:

Once adopted, the floodplain maps will be a tool for Boulder County to manage the floodplain. Boulder County will utilize the new maps in hazard mitigation and land use planning, when designing and building infrastructure, and when reviewing permit applications for development within the floodplain. It will be several years after the initial adoption before the new floodplain mapping is reflected on the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps. There will be additional public process with opportunity to review and comment on the floodplain maps prior to their adoption by FEMA. Once FEMA adopts the new floodplain maps, they will be used to determine which properties are in the 100-year floodplain and whether or not flood insurance is required.

County officials made floodplain management a priority following 2013’s historic flooding. Proctor hopes the lower rates may encourage people who do not live in the 100 year floodplain to purchase flood insurance, which is not included in homeowners insurance.

“…we know from the 2013 flood the water didn’t exactly follow where the 100 year floodplain was, and so people who were outside of the floodplain were really impacted by the floods, so we’re hoping with these rate reductions more people will consider purchasing it [flood insurance].”

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