The Water Resources Agency manages, protects, stores and conserves water resources in Monterey County for beneficial and environmental use, while minimizing damage from flooding to create a safe and sustainable water supply for present and future generations.
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
In 1968, the U.S. Congress passed the National Flood Insurance Act, which established the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP was broadened and modified with the passage of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 which required structures built in a 100-year floodplain to carry flood insurance coverage as a condition for receiving federal aid or federally insured loans. The Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994 fine-tuned many aspects of the NFIP through the creation of the Community Rating System (CRS).
National Flood Insurance Program:
The NFIP is a federal program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and makes Federally-backed flood insurance available in communities that adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances to help reduce future flood losses. The NFIP transfers costs of private property flood losses from tax payers to floodplain property owners through flood insurance premiums; provides financial aid to flood victims; encourages development away from flood-prone areas; and requires new and substantially improved structures to be constructed in a way that minimizes or prevents flood damage.
The NFIP, through partnerships with communities, the insurance industry, and the lending industry, helps reduce flood damage by nearly $800 million a year. Further, buildings constructed in compliance with NFIP building standards suffer 77 percent less damage annually than those not built in compliance. In addition, every $3 paid in flood insurance claims saves $1 in disaster assistance payments.
Monterey County joined the regular phase of the NFIP on January 30, 1984. Compliance and ongoing participation in the NFIP ensures that all County residents can purchase flood insurance.
Community Rating System (CRS)
The NFIP/CRS was implemented in 1990 as a program for recognizing and encouraging community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP standards. The National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994 codified the CRS in the NFIP. Under the CRS, flood insurance premium rates are adjusted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from community activities that meet the three goals of the CRS: (1) reduce flood losses; (2) facilitate accurate insurance rating; and (3) promote the awareness of flood insurance. The CRS recognizes 18 creditable activities, organized under four categories: Public Information, Mapping and Regulations, Flood Damage Reduction, and Flood Preparedness. Accumulation of credit points results in the assignment of a CRS classification. There are a total of ten CRS classes. Class 1 requires the most credit points and gives the largest insurance premium reduction, while a community rated Class 10 receives no reduction in insurance premiums. Since 1991, Monterey County has voluntarily participated in the NFIP/CRS Program and has achieved various ratings over the past 20 years. On 9/9/2013, the Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO)/CRS Specialist visited Monterey County to conduct a CRS verification visit. MCWRA staff met with the ISO/CRS Specialist. A total of 1848 credit points were verified which resulted in a recommendation that the community retrograde from a CRS Class 5 to a CRS Class 7. As of 4/1/2015, Monterey County NFIP policy holders will receive either a 15% or 5% discount.
The Class 7 Rating Provides Annual Savings Of Over $345,000 For Monterey County Flood Insurance Policy Holders.
Drainage System Maintenance
MCWRA operates and maintains drainage facilities in fourteen drainage maintenance zones and districts located throughout Monterey County. The drainage improvements consist of approximately fifty-seven miles of improved drainage way, eight pump stations, nine miles of river levees, two large earthen dams and numerous culverts, tide gates and concrete structures. Routine maintenance consists of ongoing removal of debris in drainage channels and pump stations, access roadway maintenance, and guardrail and fence maintenance, spraying for vegetation control, baiting for rodent control, sediment removal in drainage ways, timely repair of eroded banks, mechanical equipment and damaged facilities and ongoing preventive maintenance program. The maintenance program is administered by the MCWRA Chief Engineer of Operations and Maintenance, and consists of a full time ten member crew dedicated to the operation and maintenance of these facilities. Inspection of MCWRA facilities is performed on a regular schedule, and on a daily basis during storms. The MCWRA has heavy equipment to perform all of the debris and sediment removal, erosion repair work and access roadway maintenance.
The Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 and the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994 mandate the purchase of flood insurance as a condition of Federal or Federally related financial assistance for acquisition and/or construction of buildings in the 100-year floodplain of any community participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The purchase of flood insurance on a voluntary basis is prudent even outside of the 100-year floodplain. There is normally a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance goes into effect. The Acts prohibit Federal agency lenders from making, guaranteeing, or purchasing a loan secured by improved real estate or mobile home(s) in a 100-year floodplain, unless flood insurance has been purchased, and is maintained during the term of the loan. Federally regulated or insured lending institutions are required in all cases to notify the borrower when the building being used to secure a loan is in a 100-year floodplain. Contact Monterey County Water Resources Agency at 755-4860 in order to determine if your property is located within the 100-year floodplain in unincorporated Monterey County. The fee for the formal report is $84.
Flood Safety (Storm Preparedness)
Before The Storm: Store Essential Supplies
- Keep a first aid kit on hand
- Keep your car fueled
- Keep a supply of food which requires little cooking and no refrigeration
- Keep a portable radio, flashlights, and emergency cooking equipment in working order
- Keep on hand materials for emergency repairs (i.e. sandbags, plastic sheets, and lumber)
When You Receive A Storm Warning: Take Action
- Store drinking water in containers
- Safeguard your valuables and important papers
- Make sure your essential supplies are easy to get to
- Evacuate to a safe area if necessary. Take your essential supplies and leave a note telling where you are going
- Listen to your local radio or TV station for advice and instructions
During The Storm: Be Prepared
- Be prepared for electricity, telephone, and water services to be interrupted
- Keep listening to your local radio or TV station for storm bulletins
- Avoid areas subject to sudden flooding
- Do not try to drive on flood- or debris-covered roads
- Do not try to cross flooded streams on foot
- Beware of downed power lines or broken gas lines
- Use the telephone ONLY for family emergency needs
After The Storm: Use Common Sense
- Seek necessary medical aid from a hospital or clinic
- Do not visit disaster areas - you will be in the way and could be in danger
- Do not handle electrical equipment in wet areas
- Use a flashlight instead of candles or matches, to examine building damage
- Report downed or broken utilities to appropriate authorities
- Make sure water and food are not contaminated before use
- Listen to your local radio or TV station for advice or instructions
- IF LIFE OR PROPERTY IS IN IMMINENT DANGER CALL 911
Flood Warning System
The System consists of self-reporting remote sensors, located throughout the County, that transmit rain and stream level data via radio to base station computers at the Monterey County Water Resources Agency (MCWRA) and the Monterey County Office of Emergency Services. Additionally ALERT data is sent through an Internet Protocol Concentrator to redundant computer databases that allow reliable access via the internet. This real time data allows for the earliest possible flood warnings and river flow forecasts.
Currently, the Monterey County ALERT system consists of 23 rain gages, 9 combination rain and stream gages, and 18 stream or reservoir/lagoon level sensors. In addition, monitors have access to ALERT networks, USGS stream gage information and National Weather Service data for the Central Coast and San Francisco Bay Region, including San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and San Benito Counties; increasing the County's ability to more accurately forecast potential flooding conditions within Monterey County.
The ALERT data access system was designed with redundancy in the communication paths, databases, and web servers used to access the real time data. A secure web based interface allows multiple operators to monitor the rainfall and stream conditions throughout the County simultaneously from any computer via the internet. This allows MCWRA ALERT Team members to monitor County wide hydrologic conditions 24 hours per day from home as required during storm events. Data received from the ALERT system is the basis for County flood related decisions, and it is used by the National Weather Service in Monterey and the California Nevada River Forecast Center in Sacramento for flood warnings. Other uses of ALERT data include summer-time Salinas River flow monitoring and climatological and rainfall distribution studies.
Floodplain Development Standards
Regulations for floodplains in Monterey County are contained in Chapter 16.16 of Monterey County Code. Chapter 21.64 includes additional floodplain regulations for land use in the Carmel Valley floodplain. Development within the 100-year floodplain or within 200 feet of the riverbank may require a Use Permit from the Monterey County Planning and Building Inspection Department. As defined in County Code, development means any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate, including but not limited to buildings or other structures, mining, dredging, filling, grading, paving, excavation, or drilling operations. There are more restrictive regulations for development within the FEMA-defined floodway. Please contact MCWRA staff for additional information.
Possible Property Protection Activities On The Part Of The Property Owner
- Construct or modify retaining walls with proper drainage.
- Construct berms to divert water flows.
- Install debris fences or traps.
- Install yard inlets to convey runoff to the street.
- Construct on-site detention basins
- Improve headwalls for water conveyance.
- Floodproof retaining walls.
- Floodproof entrances.
- Add sump pump to drainage systems.
- Construct terrace drain and plant slope to reduce erosion.
- Plant slopes to reduce erosion and water flows.
- Improve on-site grading and add french-drain.
- Convert flood prone living space and replace with new story.
- Elevate the lowest floor a minimum of 1 foot above the base flood elevation (residential).
- Elevate the lowest floor a minimum of to the base flood elevation (non-residential).
- Waterproof lower level.
- Extend the walls of the house upward and raise the lowest floor.
Sandbag Distribution Information
MCWRA is responsible for maintaining the County sandbag inventory and distribution to local fire districts in unincorporated areas of Monterey County. The local fire districts distribute the sandbags to the public, free of charge, for use in flood fighting measures only. The County has two mechanical sandbaggers and a supply of sand pre-staged at select locations. This inventory list is updated as required and maintained in the Monterey County Operational Area EOC.
Sandbag Stockpile Locations and Sandbag Distribution List Information Critical Facilities List
If an existing building within the 100-year floodplain is substantially improved/damaged, it must be brought up to current County floodplain management standards. "Substantial Improvement" means any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement to a structure, the total cost of which equals or exceeds 50% of the market value of the structure before the start of construction of the improvement. "Substantial Damage" means damage of any origin sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before-damaged condition would equal or exceed 50% of the market value of the structure before damage occurred.
Monterey County Water Resources Agency
1441 Schilling Pl., North Bldg., Salinas, CA 93901
Phone (831) 755-4860 | FAX (831) 424-7935 | After Hours (831) 796-1166