Q&A: What does a floodplain administrator do?

Planner Jeremiah Rath of Chelan County Community Development is tasked with serving as the floodplain administrator for Chelan County. With a background in riparian restoration and biological science, Rath assists the public when they need a floodplain development permit.

“My goals in this position are to provide reliable and consistent information to Chelan County residents regarding FEMA and Chelan County floodplain regulations, to keep in compliance with FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area regulations and to use the provisions set forth in the Chelan County Code to protect our valuable floodplains and protect the health and safety of our residents,” Rath said recently.

We asked Rath a few questions to better educate the public about the role of a floodplain administrator.

What does a floodplain manager do?

As the Chelan County floodplain administrator, my primary duties are to review floodplain development permits, assist the public (homeowners, developers, contractors and others) with questions related to floodplain development, maintain records related to floodplain development, and to assist FEMA with flood map changes and community assistance visits.

More specifically:

  • Make floodplain boundary determinations.
  • Require, review and evaluate floodplain development permit applications for all development located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). This includes minor development (fences, accessory structures, grading, et al) that may not require building permits.
  • Provide information related to the Base Flood Elevation and answer general questions about floodplain/floodway boundaries.
  • Review elevation certificates for completeness and accuracy. Identify deficiencies before accepting as part of a development application.
  • Review development plans and specifications for compliance with the floodplain ordinance.
  • Discourage development in the floodplain when alternatives are possible and restrict development in the floodway. Review engineering analyses to ensure local regulations are being met.
  • Advise applicants of other State, federal or local permits or approvals that may be necessary when developing in an SFHA.
  • Notify FEMA of any changes to watercourses within the County’s jurisdiction.
  • Educate community members and local officials about floodplain management.
  • Ensure building officials are fully aware of building code requirements related to floodplain development.
  • Maintain complete documentation and records of all floodplain activities.
  • Investigate violations of the floodplain ordinance and initiate corrective action.

When is a Chelan County resident most likely to need to talk with a floodplain administrator?

A Chelan County resident is most likely going to need to talk with me when they have questions about or are planning to develop within a Special Flood Hazard Area. It is important to know that “development,” when in a floodplain, includes any manmade change to improved or unimproved real estate; when in doubt, just call and ask to see if you need a floodplain development permit.

A few examples of when we might cross paths:

  • You’re building, placing or expanding a structure (single-family residence, manufactured home, storage shed, barn, propane tanks, etc.) near or within a floodplain.
  • You’re building non-structures (pole barns, carports, decks, patios, gazebos, pools, erosion control, bridges, culverts, roads, retaining walls, etc.) near or within a floodplain.
  • You’re landscaping (tree removal, filling, excavating, grading, etc.) near or within a floodplain.
  • If you’re a real estate agent, a prospective home/property buyer, a contractor, a home/property owner, or anyone with questions related to floodplains in Chelan County.

How can you, as a floodplain administrator, help Chelan County residents?

I can help Chelan County residents by answering questions related to floodplain development, working with contractors to help them understand development standards, and helping to complete applications. All of which will help Chelan County residents safely live within Special Flood Hazard Areas, protect the natural functions of the floodplain, to continue our compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program, and protect public and private property from frequent or extensive flood damage.

To contact the floodplain administrator, email Rath at or call him at 667-6582.

For more information, visit the County’s Building in a Floodplain webpage.

Last Updated: 03/21/2023 02:07 PM

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    Planning Commission - April 26th, 2023

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