Flood Protection Information
- Flood Hazard & Mapping
- Flood Insurance
- Floodplain Development Requirements
- Property Protection
- Flood Warning & Flood Safety
- Drainage System Maintenance
Floodplains provide a wide range of benefits to human and natural systems. They serve as flood storage and conveyance and reduce flood velocities and flood peaks. Floodplains and wetlands provide breeding and feeding grounds for fish and wildlife, create and enhance waterfowl habitats, and protect habitats for rare and endangered species. They provide open space, aesthetic pleasure, and areas for active uses such as parks, playgrounds, and ball fields. The flood hazard areas in the City of Denton are located mainly along Cooper Creek, Pecan Creek, North Pecan Creek, Hickory Creek, Dry Fork Hickory Creek, and their tributaries. The City of Denton Capital Projects Department tracks ongoing projects which include drainage and flood hazard improvements.
Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) are issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to identify different levels of flood risks. The location of a property relative to certain flood zones indicates what restrictions may be placed on new and substantially improved construction and is also a factor when agents rate structures for flood insurance. Please see the information provided in the "Floodplain Development Requirements" tab and the "Flood Insurance" tab for additional details. The City of Denton has adopted the latest Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) effective April 18, 2011, and June 19, 2020, as issued by FEMA. Visit FloodSmart, the official FEMA site for the National Flood Insurance Program, to understand your flood risk.
City of Denton flood risk areas are also displayed using the City of Denton Interactive Map. At the right side of the page, check the FEMA box to see what layers are available through the City’s Geographic Information System (GIS). Floodplain maps are also available for reference in the Capital Projects & Engineering Department at the City Development Service Center located at 401 N. Elm St. and any Denton Public Library. For homes that were built prior to the date of the effective FIRM, it may be helpful for citizens to have access to all the historical maps to know what flood zone was in effect at the time of construction. Knowing this information can be critical if there is a dispute with a mortgage lender or insurance agent, especially if properties change flood zones when the revised maps go into effect. You can visit FEMA's Map Service Center to see current maps and historical maps.
The purchase of federal flood insurance is highly recommended for all residents of Denton, regardless of proximity to a FEMA floodplain. Basic homeowner's insurance policies do not cover damage from floods. The City of Denton participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which means that federally subsidized flood insurance is available to everyone in the city. There is a 30-day waiting period before a policy becomes effective. Some people have purchased flood insurance because it was required by the bank or loan company when they obtained a mortgage or home improvement loan. Usually, these policies just cover the building structure and not the contents, but coverage for contents is also available. A flood insurance policy must be renewed each year.
The mandatory purchase requirement applies to all forms of federal or federally related financial assistance for buildings located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). This requirement affects loans and grants for the purchase, construction, repair, or improvement of any publicly or privately owned buildings in a SFHA, including machinery, equipment, fixtures, and furnishings contained in such buildings. If a building is located in a SFHA, the agency or lender is required by law to require the recipient to purchase a flood insurance policy on the building.
In April 2022, FEMA officially rolled out a new way for agents to rate structures for flood insurance policies called Risk Rating 2.0. Under the old system, a structure was rated based on its flood zone on the FEMA FIRM and the structure’s lowest floor elevation relative to the base flood elevation. Now, structures are rated according to their actuarial risk. Several factors are involved in what determines individual risk for each structure. Click here for more information on Risk Rating 2.0. And for more information about flood insurance or the National Flood Insurance Program, contact the NFIP Help Center at (800) 427-4661, visit the Flood Smart website, or go to FEMA's flood insurance page.
The floodplain consists of the floodway and the floodway fringe. The floodway carries the major flow of a stream at relatively high depths and velocities along the centerline of the creek. The floodway fringe areas extend outside the floodway and typically carry water at more shallow depths. Because the integrity of the floodplain is fragile and because flooding is a major safety issue, all development in the floodplain must be permitted and monitored. This applies to construction of buildings and to any activities such as erecting fences or other permanent structures, mining, dredging, filling, grading, paving, excavation, drilling, or storage of equipment or supplies that will hinder or re-direct the flow path of storm water runoff in the floodplain.
The City of Denton participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which means the federal government subsidizes flood insurance for the residents of Denton. As an NFIP community, the City of Denton must require permits and enforce construction guidelines for structures in the floodplain and floodway in order to comply with minimum NFIP regulations.
Communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program must regulate to minimum standards in order to provide subsidized flood insurance to their citizens. Several guidelines must be followed when building in the floodplain for public safety reasons and to protect properties. One higher standard the City of Denton adheres to in its floodplain ordinance (Chapter 30) is that the minimum finished floor elevations for buildings within the floodway fringe and within two hundred (200) feet of the SFHA boundary shall be determined by adding eighteen (18) inches of freeboard to the one-hundred-year water surface elevation based of fully developed conditions or thirty (30) inches above the one-hundred-year water surface elevation as indicated in the flood insurance study. The elevation requirement also extends to all equipment servicing the building such as an air conditioning unit. This standard applies to all new construction and substantial improvements in the floodplain. Please see the Flood Prevention Ordinance for other floodplain development requirements. Special development regulations also apply to Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) within the city. Visit https://www.cityofdenton.com/244/Environmentally-Sensitive-Areas for more information on the different types of ESAs in Denton and what the City is doing to protect our waterways.
Denton requires any substantial improvement or substantial damage improvement to have a building permit from the Building Inspections Department located at 401 N. Elm St., reachable via (940) 349-8360. Substantial damage means damage of any origin sustained by a building or structure when the cost of restoring the building to its pre-damaged condition would equal or exceed 50% of the market value of the building before the damage occurred. Substantial damage is determined regardless of the actual repair work performed and is only relevant if the structure is located in the FEMA floodplain. Once a structure is declared to be substantially damaged by the Floodplain Administrator, the structure must be brought into current code and ordinance. Bringing a structure into compliance may mean elevating it to a certain height according to the City’s ordinance. The NFIP’s Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) is a program that provides up to $30,000 to the homeowner to bring the structure into compliance. Visit Floodsmart for more information on ICC.
Contact the City of Denton Floodplain Administrator at (940) 349-8942 for advice before you construct or place anything in the floodplain to ensure that the proper regulations are followed. Any development in the floodplain without a permit is illegal, and such activity should be reported to the Building Department. Permit information and elevation certificates on some properties in the floodplain are on file and may be requested from the Engineering Department. For more information on requirements for development, refer to the Building Permits page.
Finished construction elevation certificates for structures located in the SFHA are available and on file in the Engineering Department, and copies are available upon request. Click here for a list of addresses with final elevation certificates on file with the City of Denton.
As residents and property owners, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers of flooding and how to protect yourself and your property. Rather than wait for a flood to occur, you can act now to protect your property from flood damage. Because of Denton’s susceptibility to flash floods, it’s important to be prepared at all times. Even if you’ve never flooded before, in the life of a 30-year mortgage, there is a 26% chance of experiencing a flood if a property is located in the floodplain. Various retrofitting techniques are available to help minimize flooding such as elevating the building, constructing barriers, and floodproofing to make the building watertight.
There are several publications on retrofitting available at the Denton public library that can help you decide which technique is best for you and your property. You can also download the Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to Protect Your Home from Flooding (FEMA P-312) from the FEMA online library at https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/480 for information on permanent retrofitting measures for your home.
The City of Denton Engineering Department can provide information for flood protection assistance upon request. Information available includes required finished floor or flood proofing elevations, suggestions or resources for flood proofing of structures, as well as options for minimizing the impacts of flooding on individual structures. The Engineering Department, upon request, is available to make site visits and review flood protection plans for compliance with minimum NFIP criteria. City staff can also provide information regarding financial assistance options for flood mitigation.
A flood is an overflow of storm water onto normally dry land caused by rising water in an existing waterway, such as a river, stream or drainage ditch. These floods often occur seasonally with heavy rainfall or torrential rains associated with tropical storms. During floods, average water velocities in streams in Denton will range from one to sixteen miles per hour. When you consider that just one cubic foot of water weighs over 62 pounds and the typical flow rate during a flood will be several thousand cubic feet of water each second, you can imagine the immense force floodwaters will exert on anything in their path. Floodwaters can rise very fast. Flood hazards include large volumes of fast-moving water and large debris moving with the flow. Flooding can happen often and when least expected. Just because your home or business has not flooded in recent years does not mean it will not flood in the future. Heavy rainfall in April and May of 2015 caused flooding in some areas of Denton. In prior years, heavy rainfall in 2007 and 1996 produced major flooding in Denton. Similar rainfall can occur again at any time. Citizens can monitor real time gauge data from the Denton Enterprise Airport. Flooding is a longer-term event than flash flooding: it may last days or weeks.
A flash flood is a rapid flooding of low-lying areas (rivers, small creeks, dry lakes, washes, streams, and depressions) during extremely heavy rainfall from thunderstorms. These floods often become raging torrents of water, which rip through riverbeds, city streets, coastal sections, and valleys or canyons. Flash flooding occurs within six hours, and often within three hours, of a heavy rain event. The city of Denton is especially susceptible to flash floods and is located in the northern portion of the state’s Flash Flood Alley.
Flash Flood Watch means that flash flooding is possible within the watch area. Flash Flood Warning means that flash flooding is imminent or has been reported in the warning area. The City of Denton has developed a flood warning system for properties in floodplains. Severe weather alerts and flood warnings will be issued by radio (KNTU FM 88.1), local TV Channel 26, all cable TV stations in Denton (audio override and bulletin board), and on NOAA weather radios. The system, which is operated manually by the National Weather Service and Emergency Management trained SKYWARN volunteers, can provide one-hour advanced warning of a flood hazard. Battery operated NOAA weather radios may be purchased to receive warnings during power and telephone outages. The City has also implemented a two-way radio and paging system (911 Dispatch) that can be used by Emergency Management personnel to activate warning sirens throughout the city as needed. Contact the City of Denton Office of Emergency Management for more information at (940) 349-8836.
There are several actions you can take to reduce the chance of injury in the event of a flood including the following:
- Never camp on low ground next to streams since a flash flood can catch you while you are asleep.
- Do not allow children to play around streams, drainage ditches or viaducts, storm drains, or other flooded areas.
- Learn the safest route from your home or business to higher, safer ground, and stay tuned to reports of changing flood conditions.
- Evacuate the flood hazard area in times of impending flood. If emergency officials tell you to evacuate or leave your home, go immediately to a safe shelter, hotel, or relative's house.
- If time permits, turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if evacuation appears necessary.
- Do not walk through flowing water. Drowning is the number one cause of flood related deaths. Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet.
- Do not drive through a flooded area. More people drown in their cars than in any other location. Vehicles also push water into homes and cause additional property damage. If you see water on the roadway, Turn around, Don’t drown.
- Avoid already flooded areas and areas subject to sudden flooding. It's important to keep in mind that two feet of water will carry away most automobiles.
- If your route is blocked by floodwaters or barricades, find another route. Barricades are put up by local officials to protect people from unsafe roads. Driving around them can be a serious risk. If your vehicle becomes surrounded by water or the engine stalls, and if you can safely get out, abandon your vehicle immediately and climb to higher ground.
- Keep a NOAA weather portable radio, emergency cooking equipment, and flashlights available and in working order.
- Register with Alert Denton to receive emergency alert notices and information.
For more information on flood warnings and flood safety, visit the City of Denton Office of Emergency Management page.
The Drainage Division is responsible for maintaining the City of Denton drainage system. Annual inspections are conducted on major channels for silt or blockages. Cleaning or re-grading of channels is typically done in the dry summer months while concrete channels are cleaned and maintained as needed in the fall. Maintenance requests are addressed according to available manpower, equipment, and number of citizen requests. Debris removed include weeds, brush, litter, rocks, mud, and tree limbs. Large trees are not removed unless they pose a specific problem. Dumping of yard clippings, leaves, tree limbs, or debris in storm drains or channels will restrict flow capacity, may increase flooding, and is also illegal. Dumping also increases maintenance costs for the City of Denton. Illegal dumping is a violation of the City’s Chapter 21 ordinance and should be reported by calling the Engineering Services Department at (940) 349-8910. You can also follow the progress of the City of Denton Capital Projects Department's ongoing projects which includes drainage and flood hazard improvements. For more information on what the City of Denton is doing to protect our drainage system, visit the Maintain Your Drain page.