The Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) is regulated in County Code and consists of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) identified floodplains as well as County-identified floodplains. All development in SFHAs must meet the requirements of the County Code and any applicable FEMA requirements. Floodplain development requirements are found in Chapter 10 — Environment, but additional development requirements may be found in Chapter 24 — Zoning, Chapter 19 — Subdivisions, and the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code.
Henrico Floodplain Ordinance
Henrico County enforces higher standards for floodplain management, including a prohibition of placing fill in the floodplain. All new buildings located in the SFHA must have their lowest floor elevated two feet above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). New residential structures may not be located in or within 15 feet of the SFHA, and all structures within 40 feet of the SFHA or within the 500-year floodplain must have their lowest floor elevated one foot above the BFE. Elevation Certificates showing the floor elevations are required. Additionally, all development in the SFHA requires the submittal of a No-Rise Certificate with supporting technical data.
As part of the County’s participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the County must regulate all development in the SFHA, and all development must be permitted. The type of permit necessary for specific development depends on the size, scope, location, and/or type of authorization and permit available under the rules.
In some cases, projects may be impossible to meet certain floodplain management criteria. This is atypical, however, in the case that this is applicable to a project, close coordination with the County is required to issue a variance.
You can learn more about Floodplain Development Permits and Floodplain Variances, including accessing the application forms, by visiting the Floodplain Permits page.
Fill in any 100-year floodplain is not permitted. Development in the floodplain requires the submittal of a No-Rise Certificate with supporting technical data, and developments can’t increase the flood elevation. More information regarding templates, meeting the no-rise requirement, and development is detailed in the Floodplain Technical Guidance Manual below.
Flood Model Repository
The County’s floodplain models use the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Hydrologic Engineering Centre-River Analysis System (HEC-RAS) Software to evaluate the potential for flooding.
All FEMA and Community SFHAs in Henrico County were modeled in HEC-RAS, so Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) are available for all flood zones. The methods used to create these models include approximate, limited detailed, and detailed studies, which vary in the complexity and accuracy.
The county has copies of both FEMA and county HEC-RAS models available for property owners and developers, which can be downloaded from the county’s Flood Model Repository for free. See below for instructions for using the Flood Model Repository.
Because the county provides all current and archived models, it is important to use the most current and highest detailed models available for any floodplain analysis.
Floodplain Technical Guidance Manual
The Technical Guidance Manual for Floodplain Management was developed to support the floodplain ordinance and provide guidance for meeting the technical and permitting requirements.
Flood Model Repository Map
- Open the Flood Model Repository in your internet browser.
- Access the legend. In the top right corner, click the button with three horizontal lines. The legend will show you what the different symbols on the map indicate. Henrico County water lines and cross-sections are shown in blue.
- Find your property. Search your address in the top left corner to zoom in on your property. Click the stream closest to your property to find its name.
- Access the flood models. Click once on the area within your property boundaries to bring up the HEC-RAS Download pop-up menu.
- Click “More Info” to access the models. A zip folder will be downloaded to your computer. This file will contain all the models for the entire watershed.
- Find your stream’s models. Scroll within the file folder to find the subfolder for the stream closest to your property.