Watershed & Floodplain Management
Watershed Protection Overview
In accordance with State requirements, Gaston County has adopted Watershed Protection Regulations for the protection of our drinking water. Although local governments may expand Watershed Protection areas within their jurisdiction and adopt property boundaries, roads and other feature to define these watershed areas, the watershed areas have been defined by the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Water Resources.
By inter-local agreement Gaston County administers its Watershed Protection Regulations for: City of Bessemer City, City of Cherryville, Town of High Shoals, Town of Ranlo and the Town of Stanley. The Watershed Areas are classed as WS-II, WS-III and WS- IV with protected and critical areas. The Cities of Belmont and Mount Holly each have their own respective Watershed Ordinances. Although the Surface Water Supply Watershed Map was adopted in 2007, areas are fixed by the NC Department of Water Quality. Areas of the County that are not under Watershed Protection are governed by the County’s Stormwater Ordinance, administered by Gaston County Natural Resources.
Floodplains are a natural and beneficial part of any river or creek. Floodplains serve as important stormwater management, water quality, streambank protection, stream corridor protection, wetland preservation, and ecological purposes when permanently protected as undisturbed or minimally disturbed areas.
The flood hazard areas of Gaston County are subject to periodic inundation which may result in loss of life and property, and health and safety hazards. Gaston County has many miles of creeks and rivers, these waterways are part of the community and landscape of our County. It is hoped that everyone will become familiar with the possible hazards associated with these floodplain areas and use the suggested actions to protect yourself, your family, your property, and your investment.
Please Note: A Floodplain Development Permit, Elevation Certificate and Site Plan are required prior to any development activity or man-made change within a flood hazard area.
Upon request, the Gaston County Floodplain Administrator can perform site visits and provide floodplain information, including floodway and depth of flooding data, available elevation certificates, wetland data, and flood insurance rate maps.
Community Rating System
The National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements. As a result, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from the community actions meeting the three goals of the CRS reduce flood losses; facilitate accurate insurance rating, and promote the awareness of flood insurance.
Gaston County has earned a CRS rating of 8 which results in a reduction in flood insurance premiums of 10%.
Find Your Flood Risk Using Your Address
FEMA has developed a map service that helps homeowners quickly determine their flood risk, users can quickly locate a property, either using a known address or by clicking the map, to identify the flood risk status, the effective Flood Insurance Rate Map, and even create a flood hazard report that captures all of this information in an attractive and sharable format. http://msc.fema.gov/portal
Important Floodplain Information
The following flood hazard information is being made available to the residents of Gaston County to educate them about the floodplain areas and how to protect yourself, your family, your property, and your investment. Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths. Water currents can be deceptive and shallow waters can easily sweep a person off their feet. A few inches of flowing water can cause a vehicle to be washed off a road.
Flood Hazard Areas
The 100-year floodplain is the area that has a 1 in 100 chance to flood in any year. Small floods have a greater chance of occurring in any year and can create a significant flood hazard to people and property close to waterways. Flash floods can occur in the spring, summer, and fall. The flood hazard includes fast-moving water, sometimes accompanied by logs and debris. Citizens should also be aware that smaller localized flooding may occur where storm drains or channels become temporarily blocked. For that reason, citizens should be prepared to evacuate flood hazard areas as soon as the threat is known.
Warnings will be disseminated through local radio and television stations. Flood Watch means that flash flooding is possible within the watch area. Flash Flood Warning means that flash flooding is imminent or has been reported in the warning area and evacuation is advisable.
To lessen the flood hazard:
- Know the flood warning procedure
- Plan escape routes to high ground
- Turn off the gas and electricity
- During times of heavy rainfall, monitor the level of water in the waterway (if possible). Stay tuned to radio or TV for possible flood warnings
- Evacuate the flood hazard area in times of impending flood or when advised to do so by the police or fire department
- Do not attempt to cross a flooded stream on foot or by car
- If your car stalls in high water, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground
- Keep children away from floodwaters, ditches, culverts, and storm drains
- Be especially cautious at night
For many people, their home and its contents represent their greatest investment. Your homeowner's insurance policy will not cover losses due to flooding. Gaston County participates in the National Flood Insurance Program which makes flood insurance available to purchase for everyone. Flood Insurance is the best way for people to financially protect their property. Every licensed property insurance agent can sell flood insurance through the NFIP.
The County strongly urges you to buy flood insurance to protect yourself from devastating losses due to flooding. Flood insurance is available on buildings and personal property, and the contents of your home or business. The cost of the policy depends on the flood zone, elevation, and age of your home. A preferred risk policy is available to people in zone X, which is not in the flood zone. Renters living in a flood zone can also insure their possessions. More information about flood insurance can be obtained from your insurance agent. Just because your house has not flooded in the past does not mean that you are safe. In order to obtain financing to buy, build, or improve property located in identified flood hazard areas, flood insurance is required by law. This law applies to any mortgage, loan, grant, or other funding directly financed by a Federal Agency (VA, FHA, EPA, etc.). Lending institutions insured or regulated by a federal agency may make conventional loans at their own discretion in identified flood hazard areas.
Property Protection Measures
Retrofitting is an affordable way to protect your building from flood damage. This involves modifications to the building such as elevating it so that floodwaters do not enter or reach damageable portions, constructing barriers between the building and floodwaters, and wet and dry floodproofing. Relocate the contents so that when floodwaters enter the building, there is little or no damage from a sewer backup or sump pump failure. Emergency measures include moving belongings upstairs and sandbagging.
Drainage System Maintenance
Do not dump anything into the local waterways or drainage ditches. Doing so could cause unexpected flooding during normal thundershowers, debris in ditches and streams obstructs the flow of water which can cause overflow into roads and into yards. Partial or complete filling in these ditches can reduce the flood flow capacity, which will also result in overflow into roads or onto private property. If your property is near a waterway or drainage ditch, please do your part and keep the banks clear of brush and debris.
Floodplain Development Permit Requirements
Always check with Gaston County Building Inspections before you build or alter your property in any way. All development in the floodplain, not just the construction of buildings, requires a local permit. Illegal development can obstruct the floodplain and create an unsafe situation. For more information about these permits and to report illegal development, call the Department of Planning and Development Services - Land Use Services at 704-866-3075.
If your home or business is located in the floodplain, the National Flood Insurance Program requires that if the cost of reconstruction due to damage, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvements exceeds 50% of the building's market value, the building must meet the same requirements as a new building. Gaston County Building Inspections maintains improvement information for the life of the building; therefore, it is important to contact the Chief Building Inspector at 704-866-3960 before you make any alterations to your home or business.
Natural & Beneficial Functions
Gaston County is a beautiful place to live, and the small areas located within or near a floodplain are important assets. The undisturbed wetlands provide a wide range of benefits to the cultural and natural resources. Water quality is improved through the wetlands' ability to filter nutrients and impurities from runoff and process organic wastes. These areas provide breeding and feeding grounds for fish and wildlife, create and enhance waterfowl habitat, support a high rate of plant growth, and maintain biodiversity and the integrity of the ecosystem. Floodplains provide green space for the protection of streams from development and the forces of erosion.
Flood Evacuation Procedure
Unusually heavy rains may cause "flash" floods. Small creeks, gullies, culverts, and low-lying ground flood quickly. In such situations, people are endangered without any warnings. Response actions involve the movement to higher ground BEFORE rising waters block evacuation routes.