Kentucky Floodplain Management

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KY Division of Water – Alex VanPelt – Kentucky Floodplain 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 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:


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.


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 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.

Link to Alex VanPelt’s presentation NFIP 101.


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.


Water Organizations of KentuckyWater Organizations of Kentucky

August 2018

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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