What is a floodplain?

    A floodplain is an area of land near water bodies (rivers, lakes, etc.) that is often flooded when the water body is too full.  Examples of floodplains include low lying lands that are flooded/inundated with water when a river spills over its banks or when lake levels rise due to storm surge, or significant precipitation.  Floodplains are natural features that allow flow to spread across the landscape, limiting flooding and erosion potential.

    For more information, please visit https://npca.ca/watershed-health/floodplain-mapping.

    Why is the floodplain important?

    Knowing which areas will be inundated by flood waters is an important tool for land use planning and emergency management. This knowledge helps guide sensitive land use away from high-risk areas, and for areas where historical development has already occurred, helps us identify ways to mitigate flood risk, all with the aim of better protecting people, property, and the resilience of our city for generations to come.

    For more information, please visit https://npca.ca/watershed-health/floodplain-mapping.

    What is the regulated floodplain?

    The regulatory flood plain is the approved standard used in a particular watershed to define the limit of the flood plain for regulatory purposes. This standard is defined by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

    The NPCA defines the flood hazard as the 100-year flood event. The 100-year flood event is a frequency-based flood event that is determined through an analysis of precipitation, snow melt (or a combination thereof) having a return period of once every 100-year on average (or having a 1% chance of occurring in any given year). The 100-year flood event is the minimum acceptable standard in Ontario for defining the regulatory floodplain. In our area the amount of rainfall varies geographically, with the southern part of the peninsula generally experiencing a greater annual average amount of rainfall than the northern part. That being said, the 100-year storm produces approximately 100mm (4 inches) of rainfall over 12 hours. This amount varies slightly depending on where you are in the watershed. 

    There are three exceptions where the NPCA defines the flood hazard as the Hurricane Hazel event (also known as the Regional Flood).  NPCA uses the Regional Flood to define the floodplain limits for Beaverdams Creek, Shriner’s Creek, and Ten Mile Creek all within the City of Niagara Falls. The Regional Flood is anticipated to produce approximately 275mm (11 inches) of rainfall over 12 hours. 

    A hydrology model simulates the effect of this amount of rainfall as if it were over each watershed, taking into account the topography, soil type, land-use, and other characteristics to determine how much water would end up in our rivers and streams. A hydraulic model then looks at where this water would go, and what areas would be inundated. The inundated area for the regulatory storm is called the regulatory flood plain.

    For more information, please visit https://npca.ca/watershed-health/floodplain-mapping.

    How do I know if my property is in the study area?

    To check if your property is in the study area, please visit: https://camaps.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=a3e8e0e73bd24fa995105fe289b4826a

    Does living in or near the floodplains affect my house insurance?

    The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s goal is to produce accurate flood hazard maps using modern methods and up-to-date mapping of the study area all undertaken by experienced professional engineers. The NPCA uses these flood hazard maps to help direct new development away from areas that are flood prone. All of the NPCA’s  flood hazard maps are posted on the NPCA’s website and the reports are freely available.

    The NPCA has no control over how insurance companies implement their polices or set their rates. All insurance companies are different and some make wide assumptions regarding the location of a policy holder’s proximity to a flood hazard. The NPCA notes that flood insurance polices and premiums vary greatly between insurance companies. The NPCA would encourage landowners to speak to different insurance companies to find a policy that is right for their particular situation.

    Does this mean NPCA staff will be entering onto my property?

    Most of the crossings that have the ability to impact the floodplain are on municipal road allowances.

    A preliminary review of air photos does not indicate that the project team will need to enter private lands. However should the need arise, the project team will obtain the landowner’s permission before entering onto private property.

    Should permission not be obtained, the project team will not enter onto the property but will utilize alternative modelling methods to generate the floodplain.

    Will this study impact my property value?

    NPCA works with property owners to understand how they intend to use their property within the floodplain and if development approvals are required, to suggest solutions that balance the request with the need for risk management.

    The NPCA cannot control impacts on property value and appreciates the perception that land within the floodplain has a lower value than land outside the line. As such, careful attention is given to the technical process of defining where the line falls and to ensuring that the flood line is technically accurate and defensible in order to ensure that public risk related to flooding has been minimized.

    Why does the NPCA regulate works within the floodplain?

    The NPCA protects people and property by identifying where flood prone areas exist (i.e. floodplain mapping).

    Consistent with the Conservation Authorities Act and the Planning Act, the NPCA is obligated to regulate development in flood prone areas.

    In order to regulate development in a consistent manner, the NPCA has a series of policies that determine what can happen within the regulatory floodplain.  

    In some cases, development or use of property may be limited in order to ensure the safety of persons or property. NPCA works with property owners to understand how they intend to use their property within the floodplain and if development approvals are required, to suggest solutions that balance the request with the need for risk management.

    It is acknowledged that the “solution” may be perceived as a restriction and that there may be impacts that affect property owners; however, the goal is to minimize impact by ensuring that the location of the floodline is technically accurate.

    Is climate change being considered?

    In the NPCA’s jurisdiction, the 100-year storm is the Regulatory storm event. The goal of this project is to understand the location of that 100-year flood line.

    The NPCA through its new Strategic Plan 2021-2031, is committed to supporting evidence-based decision-making for climate-resilient watersheds and shorelines, and protecting people and properties from natural hazards and climate impacts.

    NPCA’s floodplain models, reports and mapping are freely available and important information for NPCA and other public agencies, such as municipalities, to use when assessing the potential impacts of severe weather events as a result of climate change.