Department of Water Resources
3310 El Camino Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95821
P.O. Box 219000
Sacramento, CA 95821-9000
Urban Level of Flood Protection Criteria
The Urban Level of Flood Protection Criteria (PDF: 2.7 MB) was developed in response to requirements from the Central Valley Flood Protection Act of 2008—enacted by Senate Bill 5 (SB 5) (2007)—to strengthen the link between flood management and land use; specifically, California Government Code Section 65007(n):
“Urban level of flood protection” means the level of protection that is necessary to withstand flooding that has a 1-in-200 chance of occurring in any given year using criteria consistent with, or developed by, the Department of Water Resources. “Urban level of flood protection” shall not mean shallow flooding or flooding from local drainage that meets the criteria of the national Federal Emergency Management Agency standard of flood protection.
SB 5 (2007) as amended does not specify any enforcement authority for the urban level of flood protection, but instead relies on the due diligence of cities and counties to incorporate flood risk considerations into floodplain management and planning. However, the law tasked the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) with developing criteria that cities and counties could use to make findings related to an urban level of flood protection. The law also provides that cities and counties may develop their own criteria as long as it is consistent with the criteria developed by DWR. In this context, DWR developed the Criteria to satisfy the legislative requirements without interfering with local land use authority, while providing reasonable details and flexibility, and promoting prudent floodplain management in concert with other State law provisions related to smart growth and climate change adaptation strategies.
The criteria were refined through a collaborative effort with input from a diverse work group of representatives from cities, counties, other State and federal agencies, and associated professional organizations. While the work group was not conducted in a consensus-driven process, input from the work group on the criteria and assistance in clarifying local land use planning and decision-making processes were critical additions. To the greatest extent possible, the team used existing criteria for similar practices to minimize additional burdens on cities and counties. Also addressed were extensive comments from the April 2012 draft Urban Level of Flood Protection Criteria, as well as changes resulting from legislation that amended the original SB 5 (2007) legislation.
DWR may update the Urban Level of Flood Protection Criteria in the future to reflect any changes in legislative requirements. DWR may also include the Urban Level of Flood Protection Criteria in future requirements for determining eligibility for grants.
- November 2013 Urban Level of Flood Protection Criteria (PDF: 2.7 MB)
Implementing California Flood Legislation into Local Land Use Planning: A Handbook for Local Communities (DWR, 2010) provides additional information on how the 2007 California Flood Legislation affects city and county responsibilities related to local planning requirements, including General Plans, Development Agreements, Zoning Ordinances, tentative maps and other land use actions.
The Urban Levee Design Criteria (ULDC) (DWR, 2012) is incorporated by reference into the Urban Level of Flood Protection Criteria when levees and floodwalls are used to provide the necessary level of flood protection.
A shapefile of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Hydrologic Regions is available for use in GIS applications. The Sacramento and San Joaquin Hydrologic Regions can also be seen in this map. (JPEG: 719 KB)
Work Group Information and Materials
Urban Level of Flood Protection Criteria Refinement Work Group (2013)
DWR engaged in discussions with affected stakeholders about revising the draft criteria to address public comments on the April 2012 draft criteria, legislative amendments passed in 2012, and several implementation challenges. The ULOP Criteria Refinement Work Group consisted of local government planners and other related topic experts who worked to discuss and identify what can be done to support pragmatic implementation of the urban level of flood protection requirements. As part of this effort, DWR also convened some topic-specific subgroups to work through details with a smaller group of representative experts to provide suggestions for the larger plenary work group to discuss regarding refining the criteria.
- Work Group Charter, 2013 (PDF: 71 KB; May 31, 2013)
- Work Group Roster, 2013 (PDF: 90 KB)
- Invitation to Cities and Counties to Participate in Work Group, 2013 (PDF: 38 KB)
Meeting materials for the Urban Level of Flood Protection Criteria Refinement Work Group can be downloaded below:
- Refinement Work Group Meeting Summary: June 4, 2013 (PDF: 203 KB)
- Subgroup Draft Suggested Revision Options (PDF: 604 KB)
- Subgroup 1 Meeting Summary: June 20, 2013 (PDF: 197 KB)
- Subgroup 2 Meeting Summary: June 26, 2013 (PDF: 207 KB)
- Subgroup 3 Meeting Summary: June 25, 2013 (PDF: 177 KB)
- Refinement Work Group Meeting: July 16, 2013. Agenda (PDF: 138 KB) | Summary (PDF: 207 KB)
- Refinement Work Group Meeting: August 22, 2013. Agenda (PDF: 154 KB) | Summary (PDF: 173 KB)
- Refinement Work Group Meeting: September 20, 2013. Agenda (PDF: 122 KB) | Summary (PDF: 134 KB)
Urban Level of Flood Protection Work Group, 2011-12
The April 2012 draft criteria were developed through a collaborative process with stakeholders from cities, counties, other State and federal agencies, and associated professional organizations.
Meeting summaries for the Urban Level of Flood Protection Work Group can be downloaded below:
- Work Group Meeting 1: May 3, 2011 (PDF: 218 KB)
- Work Group Meeting 2: June 21, 2011 (PDF: 102 KB)
- Work Group Webinars: August 15, 2011, and August 17, 2011 (PDF: 89 KB)
- Work Group Meeting 3: March 7, 2012 (PDF: 223 KB)
- Work Group Meeting 4: December 13, 2012 (PDF: 168 KB)
For more information regarding the Urban Level of Flood Protection Criteria and the process moving forward, please contact Michele Ng, Project Manager, Department of Water Resources, at (916) 574-2371 or Michele.Ng@water.ca.gov.