Kentucky Floodplain Management


KY Division of Water – Alex VanPelt – Kentucky NFIP Coordinator 

Alex is originally from southern Illinois, where he grew up in a floodplain along the Mississippi River in a small, rural town called Gorham.  He has a B.S. in Forestry and a M.S. in Geography and Environmental Science both from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. His Master’s thesis was about town relocation decisions in response to flood hazards. Alex’s experience includes working approximately six months for FEMA on a presidential disaster declaration in Aurora, IL, which is a western suburb of Chicago. He then took a job with the KY Division of Mine Permits as a permit reviewer for 2 years before coming to KDOW as NFIP Coordinator.  

Alex VanPelt, Environmental Scientist IV, Floodplain Management Branch.  Office: (502) 564-3410  Ex. 4952; Email:


Floodplain Management in Kentucky

Flooding is Kentucky’s most costly natural disaster, both in terms of financial loss and anguish suffered by victims. People cannot control the weather. We can, however, limit the damages that result from floods through proper floodplain management.

The Division of Water (DOW) is designated by KRS 151 as the state coordinating agency for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). As the coordinating agency, DOW assists local governments and state agencies in answering all questions concerning the program.


When Do I Need A Stream Construction Permit from the state?

The DOW administers KRS 151, which outlines the requirements for obtaining a Stream Construction Permit for floodplain development.  Stream Construction Permits are issued by the Cabinet pursuant to 401 KAR 4:060.  Kentucky requires a Stream Construction Permit for any development in areas along or across a stream, up to the one square mile drainage area, and is not limited to the Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) as shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).

The state also requires that substantial improvements to a structure be based on a 1-year period in which the cumulative cost of construction equals or exceeds 50% of the structures fair market value.  Substantially improved structures will be required to bring the entire structure up to current minimum NFIP standards.


Kentucky Regulations

The Commonwealth of Kentucky has taken several steps to reduce the hazard of flooding. Chapter 151 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes (approved in 1966) is the state statute that addresses the development of floodplain areas. The most pertinent sections of KRS 151 are:

  • KRS 151.250, which establishes the requirements for obtaining a floodplain development permit.
  • KRS 151.125, which establishes the authority and powers of the secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet to administer KRS 151.
  • KRS 151.320, which requires the judge executive of each county or the mayor or chief executive officer of each city to concurrently enforce with the cabinet, within their respective counties and cities, the provisions of KRS 151.250 or 151.280 and the rules and regulations issued thereunder.


Kentucky Resources

Follow these links:


Announcing Revised Kentucky Floodplain Administrator’s Handbook

January 11, 2017

The Division of Water announces the publication of a revised Kentucky Floodplain Admin Handbook – Revised 2016 updated to inform floodplain administrators and local officials about the NFIP, permit requirements and provides sample forms.  The Handbook outlines the floodplain management process, floodplain regulations, permit procedures, and flood mapping. 

Local Floodplain Administrators will find the following of specific interest:

  • Introduction & overview of the NFIP program
  • Administration & duties for local floodplain managers
  • Definitions and acronyms
  • Floodplain regulations at the Federal, State, & Local levels
  • Overview of Executive Order 13690, Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, and the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014
  • Overview of flood maps and the Risk MAP Program, including Letters of Map Change (LOMC)
  • Introduction to the Community Rating System (CRS)

The revised Appendix includes:

  • Sample local floodplain application & locally issued permit
  • List of required permits
  • Elevation Certificate & Floodproofing Certificates
  • Floodway ‘No-Rise’ Certification
  • Letter of Map Change forms
  • Links FEMA’s Technical Bulletins 

For more information: contact Alex VanPelt, CFM; NFIP Coordinator, Division of Water,


Kentucky’s Typical Permits at a Glance – Available

January 2015

The Division of Compliance Assistance (DCA) has published a new document that covers the major permits and authorizations typically issued by the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection (DEP).  The At-a-Glance document provides information on understanding permits and the most common permits and authorizations issued.  Click TypicalPermitsAtaGlance to read or download the document.


Kentucky Business One Stop

The Kentucky Business One Stop Portal is an easy-to-use environment where Kentucky’s businesses can find the requirements and tools they need to own and operate a business in Kentucky.  The mission of the Kentucky Business One Stop is to promote economic development and job creation, and at the same time create efficiencies for both businesses and government.  From starting your business plan to registering your business with the Commonwealth, this portal is a “one stop shop” with tools necessary to assist you in registering and operating your business in Kentucky.

Environmental Licenses/Permits:  You may be required by state and federal law or regulation to have an environmental permit to operate in Kentucky.  The Kentucky Business One Stop Portal is a great resource for identifying which environmental permits are required:


Floodplain Management in Kentucky Quick Guide

This Quick Guide will help you understand more about why and how communities in the Commonwealth of Kentucky manage floodplains and regulate floodplain development to
protect people and property.  Floodprone communities adopt ordinances that detail the rules and requirements for floodplain development.   Download the Floodplain Management in KY Quick Guide Web here.

Please direct questions and comments on this Quick Guide to the KDOW, Floodplain Management Section at 502-564-3410 or online at

For more detail on all aspects of floodplain management, please link o the “NFIP Floodplain Management Requirements Study Guide and Desk Reference for Local Officials” (FEMA 480) on KAMM’s Federal Floodplain Management webpage or order the CD from