FMP – FEMA Maps, Floodplain Permits, etc.

FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs)

FEMA publishes maps called FIRMs that show the 100-yr floodplain (or SFHA) for Washington County. These maps are on file at the Division of Plan Review & Permitting. In addition, the FIRMs can be viewed and ordered online at the FEMA Map Service Center.  The Map Service Center also has a free service that allows the user to create and print a “FIRMETTE”, which is a smaller portion of a FIRM. You can also contact the FEMA Map Information Exchange o talk to a FEMA representative regarding any flood map questions.

Flood Maps Coming Soon (DFIRMs)

The State of Maryland in conjunction with FEMA has been systematically updating Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for communities over the past several years.  The current paper flood maps are being converted to a digital format that is GIS compatible called Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs).  The improvements in spatial accuracy provided by the new base map, and the availability of electronic floodplain information should greatly enhance the ability to use the maps for planning, permitting, and insurance applications.

The Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) has created a website called DFIRM Outreach Program that provides a wide range of useful information regarding the status of the maps statewide and an aid to homeowners called Flood Risk Application that helps them determine their flood risk based on the new maps.

FEMA also has a website called RAMPP (Risk Assessment, Mapping, and Planning Partners) where the new flood maps can be viewed for Washington County.  Note: FEMA uses the term “map modernization” to refer to the DFIRM conversion project.

Floodplain Permit

A County Floodplain Permit is required for all development in the FEMA 100-year floodplain.  The term “development” is defined very broadly as “any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate.”  Any project where a person applies for a County permit (such as a building, grading, mechanical, or intent to build) is reviewed to determine if a Floodplain Permit is also required.

  • A County Floodplain Permit is not required for agricultural practices with the exception of filling, excavating or constructing a structure.
  • There are two Fees for a Floodplain Permit: $25.00 for the permit application and $150.00 for the technical review of the project.
  • Contact the Division of Plan Review & Permitting at 240.313.2460 to find out the application requirements for a Floodplain Permit.

NOTE:  In addition to the County Floodplain Permit, an approval from the Maryland Department of Environment, Water Resources Administration may be required.  Visit the MDE website Non-Tidal Wetland and Waterway Permits, Approvals and Certifications for more information.

Flood Vents

Interested in learning more about FEMA’s flood opening requirements for enclosed areas?  “Taking the Mystery Out of Flood Openings” is an excellent article published in The American Surveyor.  Also, refer to the following FEMA technical bulletins:  “Openings in Foundation Walls and Walls of Enclosures”and “Crawlspace Construction”.  Please click on the icons below for more information.

Mobile Homes

New mobile homes (“manufactured homes”) are not permitted to be placed in the FEMA floodplain.  Replacement mobile homes are permitted if they comply with certain requirements (e.g., elevated, anchored, outside the floodway, etc.).

Community Rating System (CRS)

The NFIP created the Community Rating System which is a program that provides discounts on flood insurance premiums for property owners in participating communities.  To participate, a community has to agree to implement a floodplain management program that exceeds minimum NFIP standards.  Participating communities are rated from Class 1 to Class 10, with Class 1 being the best.  Property owners located in the floodplain of a community with a Class 1 rating receive a discount of 45% on flood insurance premiums.

Washington County does not currently participate in the CRS, however, we are in the process of weighing the costs and benefits of the program.