Following the 2013 flood, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) initiated a program to re-map the predicted 1% chance regulatory floodplain (100-year flood zone) of the most affected waterways. The program was named the “Colorado Hazard Mapping Program” or “CHAMP.” Learn more by visiting the CHAMP website, reading county’s CHAMP fact sheet, or scrolling through the information below.
Phase I data was submitted by CHAMP to FEMA in the spring of 2017 and Phase II data was submitted in the spring of 2018. FEMA issued Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) based on CHAMP data in September 2019. The FEMA process after receiving Preliminary FIRMs includes a formal public comment and appeal period (anticipated for spring 2020), further analysis, and the release of final effective FIRMs. The timeline for this phase of the FIRM development process can last 18 months or longer and is dependent upon FEMA timelines and budgets.
Maps are generated by combining ground surveying information and topographical data, anticipated rainfall and river flows, and then using modeling software to develop flood profiles and flood inundation maps. The process of developing floodplain maps is a technical undertaking by well-qualified professionals.
The CWCB floodplain maps and associated data will be more accurate and ultimately replace the regulatory floodplain maps currently in use. Both the flood elevations and the floodplain boundaries are likely to change. Any resident or property owner within or near a current regulatory mapped floodplain may be affected by the new maps in terms of development regulations and eventually flood insurance requirements.
Boulder County locally adopted the draft maps developed from the CHAMP study for regulatory purposes shortly after they were submitted to FEMA for initial review. The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) replaced the draft maps with the Preliminary FIRMs effective January 2020 allowing the county to base floodplain regulations on the best available data. Local adoption of the Preliminary FIRMs does not impact flood insurance requirements and rates.
When will FEMA adopt the CHAMP mapping?
FEMA adoption of the CHAMP mapping is anticipated by 2021 for the entire area. Formal public comment will be collected as part of the FEMA adoption process. Once adopted by FEMA, the maps become the effective Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and will then be used for both insurance and regulatory purposes.
FEMA is involved throughout the entire project. FEMA will manage the process to turn the draft maps into new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).