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Floodplain Understanding and Regulations

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FloodplainMaintaining safety and preventing flood damage in the City of Novato requires that the government and the citizens work together to keep the city prepared for a flood.

Do not dump or throw anything into drainage ditches or streams: Not only is it a violation of City codes, it is the primary source of flood occurrences in Novato. Even grass clippings and branches can accumulate and plug channels and outfall structures. Blocked drainage ways simply cannot carry water, and when it rains the water has to go somewhere. Every piece of litter contributes to flooding. It also helps to clean drains around your home, including roof gutters, downspouts, drain inlets, pipes, drainage ditches and driveway culverts. If you discover a drainage course that is not functioning, please contact the City’s Maintenance Division at (415) 897-4347. To see the specific regulations, see the Novato Municipal Code Chapter 7-2.

Obtain permits before building: Development in the City of Novato is carefully regulated, and any construction that takes place, inside or outside the building, requires permits from the City. In the Special Flood Hazard Areas, special rules apply that require new developments be protected from flood damage, elevating their lowest level above the base flood elevation. They must also be anchored to prevent lateral movement in the case of flooding. These rules also apply to any substantial improvements to buildings or repairs to any substantially damaged buildings. A substantial improvement is defined as an improvement or repair worth 50% of the original building’s value. If you have any questions about permits or whether you need permits, call the Community Development Department at 415-899-8989. To see the specific regulations pertaining to flooding, see the Novato Municipal Code Chapter 5-31.

FloodplainRecognize the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains: Although the Special Flood Hazard Area in Novato covers over 5,000 acres, nearly 3,800 (75%) of those acres are preserved as natural open space areas. Understanding and preserving these areas provides many benefits to the city, including flood protection. These areas spread out floodwaters, reducing their velocity and thus erosion damage, as well as collecting silt and sediments from upstream. They also act as a non-damaging location for floodwaters to drain to,thus reducing property damage. Furthermore, these areas add to the beauty of our town and give an opportunity for wildlife to grow for mutual benefit.