Floodplain Management

Washington County Floodplain Regulations regulate floodplain development in order to: 

  • Decrease Public Funds Used in Relief Efforts
  • Encourage Development in Areas Located out of Floodplains
  • Encourage Greenways and Passive Recreational Opportunities
  • Maintain Eligibility in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Which Makes Subsidized Flood Insurance Available to the Citizens of Washington County
  • Promote Mitigation and Flood-Proofing Techniques
  • Protect Life and Property

Washington County strives to create a community where the increasing pressures of development and existing floodplains can coexist in harmony. To this end, Washington County has adopted a piece of legislation aimed at protecting life and structures from the dangers of flooding. The Resolution adopted the County Flood Damage Prevention Resolution, which can be found in the Washington County Zoning Resolution under Appendix C.

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Regulation

The current regulations were adopted by Washington County on February 27, 2012. This legislation permits the unincorporated portions of Washington County to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and reflects the minimum flood development requirements as stated in the NFIP.

Washington County Zoning Resolution

Washington County's floodplain regulations do not apply to the Town of Jonesborough or the City of Johnson City. Both municipalities actively participate in the NFIP. Please refer to each municipality's ordinance for specific floodplain regulation. The Washington County Zoning Office strives to make floodplain information available to the public. If you have any questions or comments, please call the office at 423-753-1753 between the hours of 8 am and 4:30 pm Monday through Friday.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

The United States Congress approved the National Flood Insurance Act (NFIA) in 1968 which created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The creation of the NFIP was in response to growing development within flood hazard areas. Development was occurring in such a way that the possibility of flooding was usually not taken into account. Evidence of this was the growing need of public relief for flood related disasters.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is empowered to administer the NFIP. While provisions are made for floodplain development, it is highly encouraged that all development be located in non-flood hazard areas. Floodplain development must comply with a minimum set of guidelines intended to protect the structure as well as the occupants inside. In return for adopting floodplain regulations, low cost subsidized flood insurance is available to participating communities. This is especially important while most home owner/home renter insurance policies do not provide flood insurance (or if it is available, it is extremely expensive).

FEMA provides detailed Flood Insurance Boundary Maps (FIRM's) to communities that participate in the NFIP. FIRM panels designate all flood hazard areas within a community. Should development occur within a floodplain, several requirements must be adhered to including the adopting of techniques designed to flood-proof. Flood-proofing technology can take several forms. The National Flood Insurance Program allows and encourages communities to adopt stricter floodplain regulations.


FEMA and Washington County consider Mitigation as a high priority. Mitigation can take several forms including elevation of flood prone buildings, acquiring and demolition of structures that suffer repetitive losses and strongly encouraging all development to occur outside of flood hazard areas.