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Flooding services

King County, Washington

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Flooding services and information in King County, WA

Flood Insurance Discounts and the Community Rating System
King County, Washington

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Community Rating System (CRS) (external link) is an incentive program that encourages communities to adopt floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum requirements for FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) (external link) to:

  1. Reduce flood losses.
  2. Facilitate accurate insurance ratings.
  3. Promote the awareness of flood insurance.

In return for a community’s adoption of standards that go above and beyond the minimum NFIP requirements, flood insurance premium rates for residents within the participating community are discounted. The the discount varies according to the community’s level of effort.

What is King County’s CRS rating?

King County is rated a Class 2, which provides a 40 percent discount on flood insurance premiums for property located within special flood hazard areas (SFHA) and a 10 percent discount in non-special flood hazard areas (non-SFHA) within unincorporated King County. King County was the first county in the nation to achieve this rating under CRS and remains one of only two counties in the country with this rating. As of 2012, flood insurance policyholders in unincorporated King County saved $830,265, an average of $578 per policy.

King County’s Rating Since Beginning CRS Participation in 1990

Date Class % Discount in SFHA % Discount in non-SFHA
December 15, 1990
10
0
0
October 1, 1992
9
5
5
October 1, 1993
8
10
5
October 1, 1996
6
20
10
October 1, 2001
4
30
10
October 1, 2005
3
35
10
October 1, 2007
2
40
10
October 1, 2013

2

40

10

What incorporated cities in King County participate in the CRS (as of Oct. 2013)?

Community Name Current Class % Discount in SFHA % Discount in non-SFHA
Auburn
5
25
10
Bellevue
5
25
10
Issaquah
5
25
10
Kent
6
20
10
North Bend
6
20
10
Renton
6
20
10
Snoqualmie
5
25
10

How does the Community Rating System work?

Participating communities are awarded points for their local floodplain management activities that exceed the NFIP minimum standards. Communities are placed into classes ranging from Class 1 (highest) to Class 10 (lowest) based on the total number of points accrued and other specific requirements. All participating communities start out as a Class 10, which offers no flood insurance premium discount, and each class increase results in an additional five percent premium discount. A community attaining a Class 1 CRS rating is awarded a 45 percent discount in flood insurance premiums.

The CRS program contains 18 groups of activities under which communities can acquire credit, and these groups are organized under four overarching categories: public information, mapping and regulations, flood damage reduction, and flood preparedness. King County receives CRS points in 17 of the 18 creditable activities, summarized below.

Public information credits

King County receives credit for its wide range of public information services:

  • Maintaining information on FEMA elevation certificates and making them available to the public;
  • Maintaining and providing information on flood insurance rate maps;
  • Providing information on flood insurance purchase requirements;
  • Conducting outreach to floodplain property owners through the mailing of a flood warning brochure and through a public outreach strategy developed with incorporated cities;
  • Disclosing flood hazards through notices on title, permanent signage, floodplains delineated on plat maps and real estate transactions;
  • Making floodplain information available online and at public libraries; and
  • Providing flood protection assistance to property owners through walk-in inquiries at the Dept. of Permitting and Environmental Review and outreach bulletins.

Mapping and regulation credits

Since 1993, King County has completed detailed floodplain mapping studies on more than 143.9 lineal miles of river in King County. Flood hazard mapping activities account for approximately 12 percent of King County’s overall CRS credit. King County also maps channel migration hazard areas and is working toward clarifying lahar hazards (i.e. volcanic debris flows).

King County has preserved more than 100,000 acres of open space within the regulatory floodplain and receives additional credit for maintaining those properties in a natural state (i.e., no development) to provide beneficial floodplain functions.

King County has adopted several regulations that exceed the minimum NFIP standards, including, but not limited to:

  • A three-foot freeboard (height above the 100-year flood elevation) standard for most structures and three-foot standard for critical facilities;
  • Requirement to provide compensatory storage at the same elevation for fill placed in the floodplain;
  • A zero-rise standard throughout the zero-rise floodway to preserve flood conveyance;
  • Restriction on development in areas where depths exceed three feet and velocity exceeds three feet per second;
  • Requirement for new lots to have at least 5,000 square feet outside the zero-rise floodway;
  • Restriction on non-residential structures in the FEMA floodway, except for agricultural buildings;
  • Standards for manufactured home parks located in the floodplain;
  • Requirement to remove temporary structures and hazardous materials from the floodplain during the flood season;
  • Restriction on critical facilities in the zero-rise floodway and FEMA floodway, with some exceptions;
  • Density restrictions in portions of the floodplain under land use and critical areas protection measures; and
  • Regulating development within channel migration zones.

King County also receives credit for maintaining surveyed benchmarks, geographical information systems flood data layers and copies of all flood insurance rate maps issued for the community. View an interactive map with flood and channel migration areas (requires a popup window).

King County’s Surface Water Design Manual earns the county CRS credits for water quality and quantity standards.

Flood damage reduction credits 

King County conducts a wide range of outreach projects each year in an attempt to mitigate FEMA repetitive loss properties within unincorporated King County.

Since forming in 2007, the King County Flood Control District has provided funding and technical support for the following flood risk reduction accomplishments (as of Oct. 2013):

  • 70 construction projects completed to reduce flood risks in King County;
  • 50 homes (as of 1993) and three agricultural structures elevated above 100-year flood levels (King County Home Elevation and Buyout Program);
  • 26 farm pads built to move livestock and equipment in a flood; and
  • 101 properties and 287 acres in the floodplain acquired to move people out of harm’s way and reduce repetitive loss.

The 2013 King County Flood Hazard Management Plan Update was prepared and adopted under the CRS 10-step planning process. Paper copies of the plan are also available at the following King County Libraries (external link):

  • Auburn Library
  • Bellevue Regional Library
  • Bothell Regional Library
  • Carnation Library
  • Duvall Library
  • Fall City Library
  • Fairwood Library
  • Issaquah Library
  • Kent Regional Library
  • Muckleshoot Library
  • North Bend Library
  • Redmond Library
  • Skykomish Library
  • Snoqualmie Library
  • Tukwila Library

Credit is also provided for King County’s drainage system annual inspection and maintenance program, along with a capital improvement program to repair problems areas.

Flood preparedness credits 

King County receives credit for its Flood Warning System operations and the National Weather Service's StormReady designation (external link). In addition, King County received credit for the Washington State Dam Safety program for dam operations on several of the major rivers in King County.

A robust flood warning communications program provides advance warning to more than 5,000 subscribers (as of Dec. 2013) to the automated King County Flood Alert.

Community Rating System recertification evaluation reports

King County’s Community Rating System recertification evaluation report assesses the county’s progress toward implementing the 2006 King County Flood Hazard Management Plan’s 10-year action plan and recommendations. The plan serves as the comprehensive plan for the King County Flood Control District (external link).

For questions about the Community Rating System, please contact Katy Vanderpool, Project/Program Manager, River and Floodplain Management Section.