Introduction to Floodplain Management

Introduction to Floodplain Management in the County of San Diego

A floodplain is an integral part of the stream system.  It provides storage capacity for high flows, helps reduce the erosive power of the stream during a flood, reduces the discharge of sediment during high flow periods and helps flood waters to move downstream.  Floodplains also offer opportunities for wildlife habitat which can increase the biotic diversity of a stream.  Floodplains provide a stream with buffer and water quality benefits as well.

Floodplain Management in San Diego County is guided by the following goals:

  • Reduce or eliminate existing flood hazards;
  • Prevent future flood hazards from developing;
  • Reduce the economic losses associated with flooding events;
  • Provide for expanded recreational and aesthetic opportunities in the County;
  • Restore, preserve and enhance environmental quality wherever possible; and
  • Improve the quality of life in San Diego County.

The County of San Diego has adopted a Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance under the authority of the State of California Code designed to prevent development in hazardous or sensitive areas by imposing construction standards on what is allowed to be built in the floodplain.

The County of San Diego’s ordinance meets the minimum Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requirements and in some cases exceeds the minimum requirements.

FEMA’s NFIP operates through a partnership between the Federal Government, the States, and individual communities.  Participation in the NFIP is voluntary.  In participating communities, affordable, federally backed flood insurance is made available to property owners and renters.  In return, each community adopts and enforces a floodplain management or Flood Damage Prevention ordinance or law, which it uses to define regulatory floodplains and control floodplain development, including new construction, substantial improvement of existing buildings, and repairs of substantially damaged buildings.  FEMA’s NFIP sets minimum requirements for participating communities’ building construction regulations.

The County of San Diego’s Director of Public Works has been designated to administer and implement the flood damage prevention ordinance by granting or denying development permits in accordance with its provisions.  Floodplain regulation enforcement is shared with the Department of Planning & Development Services (PDS). The PDS assists DPW Flood Control by conducting field inspections, and reviews other documentation to determine compliance with Federal, State, and local regulations.

Back to Main Flood Control Home Page

If you have questions or would like additional information, 
call the County Stormwater hotline at 1(888) 846-0800
or e-mail us at

Report a Stormwater Violation On-Line

If you see a County storm drainage system in need of maintenance, contact the County Department of Public Works Field Operations staff at (619) 443-1260 weekdays or contact the Stormwater Hotline at 1(888) 846-0800.  For after-hours emergencies contact (858) 565-5262. 

Department of Public Works
Flood Control
5510 Overland Ave., Suite 410, MS O326
San Diego,  CA  92123,  USA
(858) 495-5318           Fax: (858) 495-5263