Flood Protection Ordinance

Floodplain Permit Requirements

Any development within the 100-year floodplain requires a Floodplain Development Permit from the City of Ottawa.  Applications must be made before doing any work including; excavation, filling, fences, etc.  For permit information or to report any illegal floodplain development contact the Building Official at 1-815-433-0161.   Additional information is available on our website at www.cityofottawa.org .

Drainage System Maintenance

Simply keeping smaller ditches and streams free of debris can dramatically improve the run-off capacity in low-lying areas, as well as greatly reduce the occurrence of blockage that significantly contributes to flooding.

Substantial Improvement/Damage

Insurable buildings inside the regulatory floodplain with a federally backed mortgage or loan will be required to have flood insurance as part of the requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program.  Further, the NFIP requires when the cost of improvements or repairs from any cause that exceed 50% of the market value of the building, then the entire building must become code compliant per the City of Ottawa’s Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance.

Flood Insurance

The City of Ottawa participates in the National Flood Insurance Program.  Flood insurance is highly recommended. Remember, even if the last storm or flood missed you and even if your home has been flood proofed, the next flood could be worse. Local insurance agents can sell a flood insurance policy under rules and rates set by the Federal government.  Any agent can sell a policy and all agents must charge the same rates.  Any house can be covered by a flood insurance policy. It does not matter if it is in the mapped floodplain or out of it.

Separate coverage can be obtained for the building’s structure and for its contents (except for money, valuable papers, and the like).  The structure generally includes everything that stays with a house when it is sold, including; the furnace, cabinets, built-in appliances and wall-to-wall carpeting.

Renters can buy contents coverage, even if the owner does not buy structural coverage on the building.

If you are building inside the floodplain, the purchase of flood insurance is mandatory if using a federally regulated/insured bank for a loan.  Remember, there is a thirty day waiting period for flood insurance to take effect.

Natural & Beneficial Functions

Floodplains play a valuable role in providing natural and beneficial functions to the area around the City of Ottawa.  Undisturbed floodplains provide a wide range of benefits.  Both the Illinois & Fox River’s floodplains are used as a means to filter farm chemical run-off so that these areas can maintain bio-diversity and ecosystem sustainability.  Both floodplains contain historic and archeological sites that provide opportunity for education and study.  Both enhance waterfowl, fish and other wildlife habitats and provide feeding/breeding grounds.

Special Flood Hazard Areas

The City of Ottawa has three distinct Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA).  The boundaries of Goose Creek east of Norris Drive, to the mouth at the Fox River, The Fox River from Ottawa Regional Hospital to the mouth at the Illinois and the areas adjacent to either side of  the Illinois River from the eastern to western City limits.

The areas around Goose Creek are at greatest risk for flash flood events because of its steep declining profile.  The Fox River is influenced not just by local rain events but by most of Northeastern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin.  The Illinois River is influenced by east northeast Illinois, into parts of Western Indiana, the Kankakee River, the Des Plaines and Chicago Rivers.  It is important to understand that Ottawa is the watershed for over 11,000 square miles.

In 2008 the Illinois River reached 472.4 feet above sea level.  Water inundated Central School.  Allen Park was severely damaged and lost the tennis courts.  Three houses near Fox River Park were completely destroyed and several others suffered major damage.

On April 18-19, 2013 a record flood of 473.8 caused limited damage to several properties.  Most damaged property caused by the 2008 event have since been mitigated, including Central School.

Illegal Activity

It is illegal to dump materials, yardwaste or debris into a required waterway and violators may be fined.  (515 ILCS 5/5-5).

If you see someone dumping debris in our water courses or suspect any other illegal activity, please contact Community Development at 1-815-433-0161.

Property Protection Measures

If your property is susceptible to flooding, there are many flood damage reduction measures you can employ.

  • Watertight seals can be applied to brick and block walls to protect against low-level flooding.
  • Utilities such as heating and air conditioning systems, water heaters and other major appliances can be elevated to higher floors in the structure or raised on platforms
  • Temporary measures such as moving furniture and other valuables to higher floors or sandbagging exterior openings will also help.
  • Elevating or relocating the entire structure may also be a feasible option.

Additional Information

Information on whether your property is in the 100-year floodplain can be obtained from the Building Official or City Engineer by checking the City of Ottawa’s Geographic Information System (GIS) which has all properties listed in the regulatory floodplain.  Stop by City Hall at 301 West Madison Street or call the Community Development at 815-433-0161, ext. 219 or ext. 220

If you have flooding or drainage problems on your property, contact the City Engineer for solutions.  He can be reached at 815-433-0161 ext 220.

Other information available at City Hall and online, includes: