Translate Our Site

Floodplain Development

Information about Special Flood Hazard Areas in the City and its surrounding areas.

Contact Us

Report a drainage problem: 3-1-1          
James D. Hughes – Floodplain Administrator: (505) 924-3986          
Rudy Rael – Assistant Floodplain Administrator: (505) 924-3977

 

Albuquerque currently has over 5,000 acres within Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) and has over 700 building within the SFHA. The SFHA is especially vulnerable during Monsoon Season which runs from June 15th through September 30th.

Hydrology Section ensures that Albuquerque is compliant with FEMA rules, protects lives and properties, and allows Albuquerque residents access to more affordable, federally-backed flood insurance. Currently residents are eligible for up to 10% off flood insurance because of the Section’s activities.

Flood Hazard Ordinance (Chapter 14 Article 5, Part 1) and the International Building Codes have special provisions regulating construction and other developments within floodplains. Without these provisions, affordable flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) would not be available to property owners in the City of Albuquerque. Any development in the floodplain without a permit is illegal. Such activity can be reported to the Floodplain Administrator at (505) 924-3986 or 3-1-1.

Elevation certificates of some properties located in the Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA’s) can be found at FEMA Flood Exemptions (Elevation Certificates).

What is the definition of a flood according to FEMA and the NFIP?

A flood is a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is the policyholders’ property) from: Overflow of inland or tidal waters; Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source or mudflow.

How do I know if my residence or building is in a flood zone?

To answer this question, click on the link below and enter your address.

FEMA Flood Maps

Floodplain Permitting Process

All earthmoving, grading, paving, storm drain improvement, building additions, and new building construction in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and building additions, and new building within the Prudent Line of unlined arroyos shall apply for a Floodplain Development Permit.  Compliance with the requirements of the Flood Hazard Ordinance is required of every applicant for subdivision, site development plan, work order, and/or building permit approval.

Compliance is achieved by either demonstrating that the proposed project does not lie within a designated SFHA or by demonstrating adequate flood-proofing, including scour protection and freeboard, as required by the ordinance, or by demonstrating that the improvements will be sufficient to remove the site from the SFHA through the FEMA map revisions process.  For projects that do not involve a building in the SFHA compliance may also be achieved by demonstrating that proposed improvements do not change the BFE. A Floodplain Development Permit is required for all earthmoving, grading, paving, storm drain improvement, building additions, and new building construction in a SFHA whether or not it changes the BFE and/or SFHA location. Additionally a LOMR is required for projects that change the BFE and/or the location of the SFHA (44 CFR 65.3).

Elevation Certificate / LOMR-F  - This procedure is appropriate for buildings that are elevated above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) on fill material and the BFE remains unchanged by providing a compensatory volume of excavation such that the volume of fill below the BFE is offset by the volume of excavation below the BFE. This procedure is also applicable for all earthmoving, grading, paving, and storm drain improvement in a SFHA that do not change the location of the SFHA or the elevation of the BFE. This procedure may be used for small subdivisions, 5acers or less and /or 50 lots or less (44CFR 60.3(b)(3) & (4)), that do not change the location of the SFHA or the elevation of the BFE. This procedure may not be used for projects that include physical changes that increase or decrease the BFE.

LOMR - This procedure is appropriate for projects that change the location of the SFHA, or that change the BFE, (44 CFR 65.3) or that are more than 5 acres, or more than 50 lots (44CFR 60.3(b)(3) & (4)). This procedure is commonly referred to as the LOMR procedure by FEMA.

The applicant has the option of requesting a Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) prior to beginning construction. The applicant may proceed with construction prior to receiving a CLOMR from FEMA, but in so doing assumes the risk that FEMA may require additional or modified storm drainage improvements which must be completed prior to issuing a LOMR. A Floodplain Development Permit is not a guarantee that FEMA will issue a LOMR. The City recommends a CLOMR prior to beginning construction.

If any improvements are proposed within the existing Floodway boundary, the applicant must obtain a Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) from FEMA prior to beginning any construction in the Floodway. Construction permits will not be issued for any project that includes work in the Floodway until the CLOMR is issued by FEMA.

The City Engineer may wave some of the LOMR procedures in locations where entities other than the applicant have constructed storm drain improvements that will modify the SFHA or BFE, provided that the applicant provides a statement certified by a registered professional Engineer on the Grading and Drainage plan that the building addition and/or new buildings have been flood proofed and sites engineering analysis to support the certification.

Application Procedure

All applications prior to issuance of the Floodplain Development Permit the applicant must submit the following for review and approval:

  1. A Floodplain Development Permit Application
  2. A Grading and Drainage Plan
  3. Drainage Transportation Information Sheet Electronic form

More detailed procedure information depending on the type of application can be found at the DPM Chapter 7- Floodplain Permit.

Useful Links

USGS Current Water Data for New MexicoAlbuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA)Bernalillo CountyHomeowner's Guide to Retrofitting

More Information

Prepare for a flood

Albuquerque is especially vulnerable during Monsoon Season which runs from June 15th through September 30th. Information about monsoon awareness can be found at National Weather Service Monsoon Awareness.

No one can stop a flood, but there are many things that you can do before a storm to protect your family and keep property damage to a minimum.

  • While it’s sunny and dry, take the following steps:
    • Learn about your risk of flooding
    • Make a plan
    • Buy flood insurance
    • Stay informed

Learn about your risk of flooding

  • Do roads on your commute flood? Look for signs that indicate potential flooding. Take note of any bridges. Guardrails might indicate you are passing over a river or an arroyo.
  • Is your home, school or workplace in a floodplain? Check FEMA Flood Maps. If you need help interpreting the information, call the Assistant Floodplain Administer at (505) 924-3977.
  • If you’re not in a floodplain, is your home, school or workplace subject to “local” flooding? Local flooding occurs when the streets do not have adequate drainage. If your home is located near an arroyo or drainage channel, at a low point in a roadway or at the bottom of the hill, it may be at an increased risk of flooding.
  • Do your favorite trails run alongside an arroyo or waterway? If so, they may be subject to flooding.
  • Learn the difference between an advisory, watch and warning.

Make a plan

  • How will you avoid flooded roads? Is there somewhere you can wait out a flood or an alternative route?
  • If your home is subject to flooding, will you try to leave or wait out a flood at home? Is there a friend or relative whom you can stay with if a flash flood watch has been issued? If you want to leave, when will you leave? Consider that the roads may already be impassible by the time water starts entering your house.
  • Where can you wait out a flood at your house? If you live in a one-story house, escaping on to your roof is better than in the attic. Have the equipment you need to reach your roof.
  • Are there elderly, disabled, young children or pets in your family who will need extra assistance?
  • Make an emergency kit that you can easily grab and take with you.
  • Find out how to turn off utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve. If there’s time, you’ll want to take these actions before leaving.
  • Choose a relative or friend as a contact point in case your family is separated.
  • Find out more about making a plan.
  • You should also store important papers, photographs or valuables in watertight containers, placed on a high shelf.

Do I need to purchase flood insurance? How can I lower the premium?

It’s a good idea to determine the risk your property has of flooding. Is your house next to a arroyo or storm drain channel? Is it located at the low-point of a roadway or at the bottom of a hill? These are indications that flood insurance may be a good idea.

Mortgage companies usually require flood insurance for homes and businesses in the floodplain. Homeowners insurance policies do not cover flooding caused by stormwater. Homeowners, renters and businesses can all buy flood insurance, whether or not they are in a floodplain. Make sure you buy coverage for your contents as well as for the structure. There's more information at FloodSmart.gov.

Keep in mind that people outside of floodplain areas file more than 20% of flood insurance claims and receive about one-third of disaster assistance, when it is available.

For more information about who must purchase flood insurance, go to FEMA’s website Mandatory Purchase Requirement.

In regard to lowering your premium, you may already be getting a 10% discount because of the steps Albuquerque takes to guard against flooding. In addition, there may be some improvements that you can make to protect your house or business from flooding.

An elevation certificate may also be helpful. Prepared by a surveyor or engineer, elevation certificates show the elevation of your home in comparison with the expected elevation of floodwaters. If the certificate shows that the lowest floor elevation in your house is above the expected inundation levels, it should lower your insurance premium. The City may already have one on file for your house or business, but we cannot guarantee the accuracy. Elevation certificates of some properties located in the Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA’s) can be found at FEMA Flood Exemptions (Elevation Certificates).

Go to the FEMA’s publications to find out more about protecting your property:

During a Flood

Save Yourself!

Rushing water has tremendous power. Taking the following steps during a storm can help you stay safe:

  • Be alert to your surroundings.
  • Monitor local media.
  • Avoid driving.
  • Stay away from arroyos, channels, trails, culverts, ponds and other drainage infrastructure.
  • If water starts to rise, seek higher ground.

If you must drive...

About 75% of flood-related deaths occur in vehicles. At night, during heavy storms, it may be difficult to see that a road is flooded. Survivors have told us that they did not even see water on the road until their vehicle stalled in it.

Realizing that not all flooded roads will be barricaded, take the following precautions:

  • Avoid low water crossings.
  • Actively look for water over the road.
  • Turn around if a road is barricaded or if water is over the road. Keep in mind that the road may be heavily damaged underneath the flood water.