County's flood plain maps updated

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Residents who want to comment on updated 100-year flood plain maps for Routt County have until June 7.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, Routt County and the city of Steamboat Springs have been working on the maps since 1998, when the federal agency found funding for the project.

The new documents update some portions of maps approved in 1989 and map other flood plains for the first time, Routt County Planner Chad Phillips said.

The maps show what areas would be impacted by a 100-year flood, which is a flood so big it only has a 1 percent chance of happening each year.

Knowing the location of flood plains helps keep new construction out of flood areas, where fast-moving water would move during a flood, and out of flood plains. It also helps the county protect its riparian areas, said Phillips, who also is the county's flood plain administrator.

Residents who choose to build within a flood plain must infill the property so their homes are 2 feet higher than the base flood level, according to county standards, Phillips said.

They also should expect higher flood insurance rates.

"Your insurance is going to be very high or you might not be able to get it in some cases," Phillips said.

Newly mapped areas include a section of the Elk River to the confluence with the Yampa River and a section of the Yampa River from Carpenter Ranch to the east side of Hayden. The updated area of the Yampa River runs from Lake Catamount, through the city to Saddle Mountain.

Residents who have built a home in an area that now is designated as a 100-year flood plain should check if their flood insurance is changing, Phillips said.

Although it's likely that some homes have been built in areas that now are designated as flood plains, Phillips said the county doesn't expect many complaints from people who learn they are in a flood plain.

"It's just spelling out the reality of the situation, whereas it was an unknown before," Phillips said.

Residents who want to examine the new maps can go to the city of Steamboat Springs, 124th 10th St., for city maps and to the Routt County Planning Department for county maps. Those who wish to dispute a 100-year flood plain mapping must have an official dispute from an engineer or hydrologist, Phillips said.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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