Marion County Floodplain Program
Potential Changes to Flooplain Regulations
On April 14, 2016 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a decision regarding how the federal Endangered Species Act is implemented in floodplains in Oregon. This decision affects how floodplain permits are implemented in Marion County.
For more information on the NOAA decision:
The decision by NOAA directs FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) to change how floodplain development standards are implemented locally. Based on preliminary information provided by NOAA, federal law might only recognize work on an existing permit that has begun prior to September 15, 2016 and is completed prior to March 15, 2017.
It is possible that applications for fill in floodplains or development in floodways will not be able to be approved until the county adopts interim measures. The county intends to adopt these by September 15, 2016, or as required by FEMA, so that development can proceed as quickly as possible.
For more information, contact Brandon Reich, Marion County Planning, at (503) 566-4175 or
Our Floodplain Program
Along with the Willamette River, Marion County has many streams and rivers that are subject to flooding. Under certain conditions, such as the storm events that occurred from Dec. 1996 through Feb. 1997, rain and melting snow cause these streams and rivers to overflow their banks. As you can see from these pictures, homes and property suffered significant damage:
Willamette River south of Salem
City of Keizer
The purpose of the Marion County's Floodplain Program is to promote public health, safety and general welfare and to minimize public and private losses due to flood conditions. To benefit our citizens, the County participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which makes federally-backed flood insurance available for eligible buildings, whether they are in the floodplain or not. Generally speaking, a floodplain is level land that may be submerged by floodwaters or a plain built up by stream deposits.
The County's flood management practices and participation in the
Community Rating System of the NFIP bring many benefits to County residents, including a savings of up to 20% on flood insurance premiums. Flood insurance covers direct losses caused by surface flooding, including a river or lake flowing over its banks and local drainage problems. See below for more information.
The Marion County Planning Division provides information on a variety of flood-related issues. Staff can tell you if a property is in a flood hazard area, and provide copies of elevation certificates (if applicable), regulations for development in the floodplain, and additional flood insurance data.
Development Not Requiring an Elevation Certificate
Previously, the county had amended the Rural Floodplain Overlay Zone to exempt certain types of structures from the requirement to obtain an elevation certificate. This is based on guidance from FEMA of structures for which federal law does not require an elevation permit. The Board adopted the same change into the Urban Floodplain Overlay Zone to be consistent and to ensure requirements are the same for property owners whether they are developing in the urban or the rural area of the county.
Unless requested by FEMA, elevation certificates would not be required for the following uses:
Water dependent uses, such as boat ramps, docks, wells and well covers.
Improvements resulting from cut or fill operations, such as berms, bank improvements, ponds and dams.
Small scale facilities necessary to serve other uses, such as kiosks and open picnic shelters.
Grading, such as for roadways, even where alteration of topography occurs.
Floodplain Elevation Certificates- a list of FEMA elevation certificates (by address) submitted since 1979 for construction in the Marion County Special Flood Hazard Areas. Please note this does not include property inside any city within Marion County.
"Important Information for People Living In or Near Floodplains" - useful information on recent flood events, causes of flooding in Marion County, flood insurance, flood safety tips, and a list of contacts.
"Purchasing Flood Insurance" - a handy reference guide on flood insurance requirements and procedures including obtaining insurance if your property is not in a designated flood area and a list of information the Planning Division provides.
"Information About Flood Insurance" - brochure produced by the Planning Division with general information on flood insurance and how it works, mandatory purchase requirements, and purchasing flood insurance when your property is not in a floodplain.
National Flood Insurance Program brochures by FEMA
"Your homeowners insurance doesn't cover floods..."
"Top Ten Facts for Consumers"
"The Benefits of Flood Insurance Versus Disaster Assistance"