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  • Investments in flood control systems result in District’s updated FEMA status

    Mar 23, 2022 | Read More News
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    Decades of County investments in flood control systems and technology have brought a safer community, protection of natural spaces, and soon will result in lower flood insurance premiums for many residents.   

    Beginning April 1, the Pima County Regional Flood Control District (District) will be upgraded to a Class-3 Community as determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 
    Shields and Shepp
    The updated classification falls under the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS), which rewards participating communities for going above and beyond the federal minimum requirements for floodplain management. The District was previously a Class-5 community and the upgrade to a Class-3 may result in a substantial reduction of flood insurance premiums for many County property owners. 

    “This Class-3 rating validates the many years of hard work and taxpayers’ investments in flood control infrastructure and programs since the District joined the CRS in 1991,” Suzanne Shields, District Director and Chief Engineer, said. 

    The status upgrade places the District at the top 1% of the 1,729 CRS communities in the country. The District is the first and only Class-3 Community in Arizona and is one of only 17 in the entire nation rated as a Class-3 or better.

    The FEMA designation is based on the accumulation of points the District has earned using the federal scoring system. Some of the areas where the county received credit include the establishment of higher regulatory construction standards, open space protection/preservation, stormwater drainage system maintenance, targeted public outreach, floodplain management planning, and flood warning messaging.

    Another major area where the District receives credit is the delineation of local, or non-FEMA mapped, floodplains. The District has spent many years perfecting its technical mapping processes using a two-dimensional grid system that models floodplains more accurately than previously possible.

    “This is a big win for Pima County residents who have flood insurance because they will now receive a 35 percent reduction in their premiums,” Shields says. Officials estimate that the reduction in premiums will save County residents approximately $1.6 million per year in flood insurance costs.

    The Class-3 designation is timely since the NFIP and FEMA have changed flood insurance premium pricing methodologies. Regular homeowners or business insurance policies do not typically cover losses caused by flooding so the District encourages the purchase of flood insurance for at-risk structures even when not required by the NFIP, such as structures located outside FEMA mapped floodplains. The Class-3 status will help make that flood insurance more affordable.

    Learn more about flood insurance in Pima County here