Fort Worth updates regulations to expand flooding protections, streamline permitting

Fort Worth City Council members have updated regulations to help protect properties from flooding, streamline the grading permitting process and clarify city development requirements. All regulations and updates will take effect July 15.

The city has participated in the National Flood Insurance Program since 1980, which helps protect properties within Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Special Flood Hazard Areas. However, these areas don’t include developments that are under 1 acre, making them far more vulnerable to flood events.

The updated regulations will help mitigate public and private losses due to flood conditions in areas that aren’t protected by FEMA. This will allow the city to establish and regulate critical flood risk areas that experience regular flooding during rainstorms.

The updated Floodplain Provisions Ordinance will establish non-FEMA City Flood Risk Areas (CFRAs) across the city. However, the regulations will only apply to new construction and development activity such as fences, accessory structures and room additions.

The city has amended the Grading Permit Ordinance to improve the permitting process. The update will replace the Final integrated Storm Water Management (iSWM) Plan with a grading permit. This eliminated a step in the development review process, enhancing its efficiency and effectiveness.

The update will also:

  • Clarify submission requirements and apply review requirements evenly across projects.
  • Better define Early Grading Permits and clarify their requirements.
  • Clarify exemptions and simplify review processes for public infrastructure.

The City Council has also updated the Storm Drainage Criteria and Design Manual to incorporate the floodplain provisions and grading permit ordinance changes. The original manual was developed in 1967 and last updated in 2015. The manual helps developers submit construction plans by clarifying city development requirements.

The major updates to the manual include:

  • Incorporating CFRA guidance and regulations.
  • No longer requiring Final iSWM Plans.
  • Better defining and introducing drainage studies as separate submissions to replace iSWM plans.
  • Allowing the use of specific types of polypropylene pipes instead of concrete.
  • Defining stormwater detention facility maintenance requirements.
  • Updating runoff coefficients for more dense residential developments.
  • Revising easement sizing requirements.
  • Updating administrative procedures for processing applications and conducting pre-submittal meetings.

Photo courtesy of the Tarrant Regional Water District

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