New maps refining valley floodplain

The Yavapai County Flood Control District is steadily working its way through a long list of revisions to its Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) flood insurance maps.

Begun two years ago, the half-million-dollar project will eventually revise what are known as Flood Insurance Risk Maps (FIRM) for the Verde River, from Clarkdale to Beasley Flat, along with some of the tributaries and drainages.

The maps currently used to calculate federal flood insurance rates and determine the floodplain boundary were made in the 1980's and were based on 20-foot elevation contour lines. With today's GPS technology those lines can be delineated accurately down to two-foot contours.

One instance is the preliminary map for Dry Beaver Creek, released for both FEMA and public scrutiny this week.

"This one goes five miles up Dry Beaver Creek from its confluence with Wet Beaver Creek. It's reach we have had under study for a while and a step in the process. It is now ready for review, before it is finalized," says Charlie Cave, director of the YCFCD.

Cave stresses the map sent to FEMA is preliminary and will have to be approved by the agency before it becomes official.

"It will probably be another six months before we see it," says Cave.

Because of the greater detail and the finer elevation profile, the Dry Beaver Creek map shows a narrowing of the floodplain to some extent, says Cave.

"It's what you would expect from more accurate mapping and better analysis. There haven't been any significant physical changes to the stream itself," says Cave.

YCFCD currently has 12 maps in the pipeline at varying stages of completeness.

"They kind of click along. We are definitely in a federal process," says Cave.

Cave says much of the Verde River mapping will move back to a public process this summer and fall.

"We have a belief here at the county that one step in managing the floodplains is to actually get the flood hazard as closely designated as we can.

To view the new map for Dry Beaver Creek contact YCFCD at (928) 771-3197.

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