Travis County adopts updated flood plain standards following release of Atlas 14 study

Seven low-water crossings on Spicewood Springs Road make flooding inevitable, as seen here during the June 4, 2016, flood.

Seven low-water crossings on Spicewood Springs Road make flooding inevitable, as seen here during the June 4, 2016, flood.

Travis County commissioners voted by consent motion to adopt updated flood plain standards for land development, taking into consideration a new federal study that shows more intense rainfall has exacerbated the threat of flooding in Central Texas.

The study, called Atlas 14, was conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is the first of its kind since 1961. Using updated rainfall intensity data, the NOAA has redefined critical storm events.

Previously, a 100-year storm in Travis County would consist of 10 inches of rain in 24 hours. Using the updated data, a 100-year-storm now consists of 13 inches in the same period.

Despite the release of this study, it will take years for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to update its flood insurance rate maps, according to a summary prepared by Stacey Scheffel, flood plain administrator for Travis County.

In the interim, county commissioners have chosen to adopt the higher standards that reflect the new Atlas 14 data.

Because the county has relied on FEMA flood insurance rate maps in the past, the process to update local rates is “still unclear,” per Scheffel’s summary.

Adopting Atlas 14 standards will increase costs for developers, landowners and the county.

In November, commissioners voted to spend an additional $22 million to ensure 2017 bond and critical safety projects are compliant with the updated flood plain standards.

“It is more cost effective and prudent to build the infrastructure based on the Atlas 14 data than to retrofit it later, or in response to an event,” Scheffel wrote.
SHARE THIS STORY


MOST RECENT

Travis County commissioners voted to allow staff to begin contract negotiations for a new women's jail facility at a Dec. 10 meeting. (Courtesy Travis County Sheriff's Office)
Travis County begins contract negotiations for women’s jail facility as overall jail population continues to decline

The county has planned to build a new, separate women’s facility for years, despite some pushback from local activists.

A photo of the exterior of Flying Fish Swim Academy.
Flying Fish Swim Academy celebrates Dripping Springs opening

A new facility offering swimming lessons has opened in Dripping Springs.

The Microtel Inn and Suites is located in Southeast Austin, only a 4.5-mile drive from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. (Courtesy Google Maps)
Zoning concern prevents Austin from moving forward with second conversion of hotel to homeless shelter

Officials have already indicated they are eyeing other hotels and motels for purchase and conversion into homeless shelters.

This is the Estancia property that was purchased by Texas Children's on Dec. 10. (Courtesy Texas Children's Hospital)
Texas Children’s Hospital eyes further expansion in Austin with purchases of land

Houston-based Texas Children's Hospital has closed on the purchase of two plots of land in the Austin area.

Common winter allergies in Texas are caused by pollen from the Ashe juniper—also known as a mountain cedar. The tree is native to the area. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
As pollen counts rise in Central Texas, learn about cedar fever and allergy prevention

As temperatures cool heading into the winter season in Central Texas, pollen counts from Ashe juniper trees begin to climb, causing seasonal allergies referred to locally by residents as “cedar fever.”

A photo of Todd Washburn sitting behind a desk.
Get to know Dripping Springs ISD Superintendent Todd Washburn

New Dripping Springs ISD Superintendent Todd Washburn sits down for a Q&A.

A photo of the sign for Code 1 Concierge Care
Code 1 Concierge Care brings medical services to South Austin

Code 1 Concierge Care opened its doors Dec. 1.

Austin Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza, at the lectern, speaks at a November 2017 press conference. Garza filed her candidacy for Travis County attorney on Dec. 9.
Delia Garza files for Travis County attorney race, will finish term as Austin Mayor Pro Tem

Austin Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza filed her candidacy paperwork Dec. 9 to run for Travis County attorney as a Democrat.

Belterra Taekwondo opened Dec. 5. (Courtesy Brandon Knicely/Belterra Taekwondo)
Belterra Taekwondo has opened in Belterra Village

A new martial arts studio has come to Dripping Springs.

Byron Smith, left, and Tim Manson are planning to break ground on their new storage business called XSpace in late January. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Australian businessmen betting on success of innovative storage model in western Travis County

A primary difference between their model and more traditional storage models, they say, is the fact that their units are for sale and not for rent. But there are other differences.

Back to top