Kentucky Floodplain Management

Kentucky Flooding Facts

  • Flooding can occur almost anywhere. The speed and duration of flooding can vary significantly
  • Kentucky experiences– flash floods, stormwater, backwater, and riverine flooding
  • Saturated conditions prior to rain events may exacerbate flooding
  • Flooding may cause fatalities or injuries, disrupt or destroy infrastructure (roads, bridges, culverts, water, wastewater, gas, electric), disrupt drinking water supplies, and cause erosion and landslides

Due to a varied topography and nearly 90,000 miles of rivers and streams, flooding is Kentucky’s most costly natural hazard.

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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.

The DOW Floodplain Management Section has the primary responsibility for the approval or denial of proposed development and other activities in the floodplain of all streams in the Commonwealth.  Typical activities permitted are bridges, culverts, residential and commercial buildings, placement of fill, stream alterations or relocations, and water and wastewater treatment plants and other utility structures.  Permits are issued for proposed actions in floodplains that meet all state floodplain statutes, regulations and standards.  Additionally, the Floodplain Management section ensures that permitted development in floodplains complies with applicable requirements and limitations.  The section works closely with the Division’s Field Office Branch to ensure development in floodplains is conducted in as safe a manner as possible and minimizes future flooding impacts.

Kentucky Floodplain Coordinator: Alex VanPelt 

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 two years before coming to KDOW as NFIP Coordinator.

Alex VanPelt, KY Floodplain Coordinator, Water Resources Branch, Division of Water

Direct:  (502) 782-7120; DOW:  (502) 564-3410.Email:

Link to Alex VanPelt’s presentation NFIP 101.

Kentucky Regulations

State floodplain development requirements are outlined in 401 KAR 4:060 of the Kentucky Administrative Regulations (KAR). The DOW administrative regulations are contained in Title 401 Chapters 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the Kentucky Administrative Regulations (KAR).  

Floodplain permits are issued by the Cabinet pursuant to 401 KAR 4:060 for any development in areas along or across a streamLink to 401 KAR 4:060. Stream construction criteria.Title 401 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 151.125, which establishes the authority and powers of the secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet to administer KRS 151.
  • KRS 151.250, which establishes the requirements for obtaining a floodplain development permit.
  • 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’s Typical Permits at a Glance – Available

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 Typical Permits At a Glance to read or download the document.

Mapping Information Platform Users Update

January 2024

FEMA made an update to the processing of MT-2 cases (Conditional Letters of Map Revision, CLOMRs & Letters of Map Revision, LOMRs) within the state of Kentucky. MT-2 cases received within the state of Kentucky will now be managed by the Kentucky Energy and Environmental Cabinet (KEEC). All MT-2 cases received within the state of Kentucky that are submitted through the Online Letter of Map Change portal will automatically be routed to the KEEC for processing.

Paper forms and fees, including the FEMA Payment Information Form, can be mailed to:

Kentucky Division of Water
300 Sower Blvd
Frankfort KY 40601

ATTN: LOMR Program

For additional information, please email

Risk MAP IT Help email: 

Risk MAP IT Help website: Risk MAP IT Help page


KY Erosion Prevention and Sediment Control Guide


Guide for Working in Kentucky Stream Channels & Wetlands

Permits are required for digging, trenching, dumping, dredging, clearing, and operating equipment in or near a creek, wetland, lake, or near a sinkhole, because:

• Dumping material into a stream or changing the banks or channel can cause flooding

• Changing the flow of a stream can cause rapid erosion of downstream property

• Digging or operating equipment in a stream or wetland causes sediment pollution

• Muddy water caused by in-stream work is harmful to fish and other creek life

• Water treatment plant filters are clogged more often by high-sediment water

• Possible adverse impacts on adjacent properties or infrastructure That’s why working in the channel – within the banks – or in a wetland or sinkhole drain requires one or more permits.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) issues permits for the placement of dredged or fill material into the “waters of the United States,” which include rivers, lakes, wetlands, streams, sinkholes, and their tributaries.

The DOW is also involved, because that agency has to certify that the USACE permit will not harm water quality. DOW also issues permits for construction within the floodplain or stream, and for all projects that disturb one acre or more. Local agencies also require permits for land disturbance activities.

Link to the comprehensive 64-page guide – Guide for Working in Kentucky Stream Channels and Wetlands.



Kentucky Flood Preparedness Quick Guide

DOW developed a two-page guide that covers several aspects flooding.  The Guide includes what local officials and citizens should do before, during, and after a flooding event, as well as topics such as how to find your flood risk, when are permits needed, mitigation information, substantial damage information, and more.

Download the Kentucky Flood Preparedness Quick Guide and share it throughout your community.


Kentucky Floodplain Administrator’s Handbook

The Division of Water announces the publication of a revised Kentucky Floodplain Admin Handbook  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,

Download the Dangers of Dredging

Water Organizations of KentuckyWater Organizations of Kentucky

Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute (KWRRI), created the poster, Water Organizations of Kentucky, to serve as an overview of water organizations and facilitate networking among organizations.  Download here: Water Organizations of Kentucky (PDF, 1pg).

If you would like to purchase a printed copy of the poster, please contact









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