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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
Other information available at City Hall and online, includes: