Flood Terminology 

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Floodplain: A floodplain is a land area adjacent to a river, stream, lake, estuary, or other water body that is subject to flooding. This area, if left undisturbed, acts to store excess floodwater. The floodplain is made up of two sections: the floodway and the flood fringe.

100-Year Flood: The 100-year flooding event is the flood having a 1 percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in magnitude in any given year. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a flood occurring once every 100 years. The 100-year floodplain is the area adjoining a river, stream, or watercourse covered by water in the event of a 100-year flood.

Floodway: The floodway is one of two main sections that make up the floodplain. Floodways are defined for regulatory purposes. Unlike floodplains, floodways do not reflect a recognizable geologic feature. For NFIP purposes, floodways are defined as the channel of a river or stream, and the overbank areas adjacent to the channel. The floodway carries the bulk of the floodwater downstream and is usually the area where water velocities and forces are the greatest. NFIP regulations require that the floodway be kept open and free from development or other structures that would obstruct or divert flood flows onto other properties. In Lane County, development within the floodway is highly regulated. The NFIP floodway definition is "the channel of a river or other watercourse and adjacent land areas that must be reserved in order to discharge the base flood without cumulatively increasing the water surface elevation more than one foot. Floodways are not mapped for all rivers and streams but are generally mapped in developed areas.

Flood Fringe: The flood fringe refers to the outer portions of the floodplain, beginning at the edge of the floodway and continuing outward. The flood fringe is outside of the floodway but is subject to periodic inundation by regular flooding. This is the area where development is most likely to occur, and where precautions to protect life and property need to be taken.

Development: For floodplain ordinance purposes, development is broadly defined by Lane Code Chapter 16.090 to mean "the construction, reconstruction, conversion, structural alteration, relocation or enlargement of any structure; any mining, excavation, landfill or grading, including the removal or destruction of vegetation within a protected riparian setback area designated by the Rural Comprehensive Plan.”

Base Flood Elevation (BFE): The term "Base Flood Elevation" refers to the elevation (normally measured in feet above sea level) that the base flood is expected to reach. Base flood elevations can be set at levels other than the 100-year flood. Some communities choose to use higher frequency flood events as their base flood elevation for certain activities, while using lower frequency events for others. For example, for the purpose of storm water management, a 25-year flood event might serve as the base flood elevation, while the 500-year flood event may serve as base flood elevation for the tie down of mobile homes. The regulations of the NFIP focus on development in the 100-year floodplain


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