Frequently Asked Questions About Flooding in Bryan

Drainage and Flooding

How do I report a drainage problem?

Drainage problems can be reported to the City’s Public Works Call Center at 979-209-5900. Be prepared to provide specific information, especially the concern and location of the problem.  You can also visit https://weblink.bryantx.gov/Forms/BkrER and fill out an online form.

My house flooded. What can I do? What can the City do?

You should call your home or business insurance provider and follow their instructions to file a claim and repair the house. You also can contact the City of Bryan Public Works Call Center (979-209-5900) so they are aware the flooding occurred.  This information will be helpful to the City in determining if there are any public infrastructure improvements that could be made to remedy or alleviate the flooding problem.  Many times there is not a solution that can be provided by the City.  The source of the flood waters entering your home (roof, street, neighbor, creek, etc.) and how deep the waters were within the home is important information to share with the City.

If a Presidential Disaster Declaration has been made, there is federal assistance available through the US Small Business Administration disaster loans.  Disaster survivors may register the following ways:

  • online at DisasterAssistance.gov
  • phone 800-621-3362 (FEMA). Applicants who use 711 or Video Relay Service may also call 800-621-3362. Persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY may call 800-462-7585. The toll-free numbers are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.
  • at a disaster recovery center. To find the nearest one, go online to the disaster recovery center locator at asd.fema.gov/inter/locator.

FEMA grants do not have to be repaid. FEMA assistance is nontaxable and will not affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid or other federal benefits.

Survivors should register even if they have insurance. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments, but underinsured applicants may receive help after their claims have been settled.

My house has flooded multiple times, what should I do?

If you have flood insurance and meet certain criteria your property may be considered a Repetitive Loss Property.  Providing information to the City of Bryan so we are aware of your flooding situation is important.  Please fill out the information located at https://weblink.bryantx.gov/Forms/BkrER or call our Public Works Call Center at 979-209-5929.

How do I stay safe and protect my family during a flood?

  • Take your family and yourself to a safe location. Don’t forget your pets; remember, they depend on you too.
  • Do not use electrical appliances that may have become wet. Stay away from power lines and electrical wires.
  • Do not walk through flowing water or drive through a flooded area. Ten inches of water on the roadway where water is flowing rapidly will carry away most cars and small trucks. Depth of water is hard to determine so when in doubt, play it safe and find an alternate route. Turn around, don’t drown.
  • Listen for information by tuning to local radio and TV stations. Also, be aware of the Emergency Alert System and familiarize yourself with different warning signals. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio broadcasts current local weather information, watches, warnings, and forecasts 24 hours a day, and can be monitored on 162.400 mhz.

What rivers, creeks and tributaries exist in Bryan?

Eight creek systems exist in Bryan, including Carters, Burton, Briar, Hudson, Thompson, Still, Cottonwood Branch, and Turkey. Carters, Burton, Briar and Hudson drain to the Navasota River.  Thompson, Still, Cottonwood Branch and Turkey drain to the Brazos River.  The Navasota River is a tributary of the Brazos River joining at the southern tip of Brazos County.

Who is responsible for cleaning the creek behind my private property?

The City of Bryan Streets and Drainage Department maintains concrete channels and borrow ditches within the street right-of-way and channels within public drainage easements outside the street right-of-way. Creeks and channels left in their natural state within public drainage easements will receive minimal maintenance by the City such as removing downed trees and overgrown vegetation blocking the creek flow in order to preserve the natural features.  The City does not maintain creeks, channels, storm sewers or detention ponds that are not located within a public drainage easement. The property owner or adjacent property owners are responsible for required maintenance, including debris pickup, downed trees and overgrown vegetation.

What is a drainage easement?

A drainage easement is a permanent attachment to a property deed which states that access to part of the property is dedicated for the purpose of maintaining and conveying drainage and for allowing the proper function of the drainage system.  The easement may contain drainage infrastructure (culvert, storm sewer, detention pond, etc.) or may be needed for overland flow.  Most drainage easements within the City of Bryan are privately owned and the responsibility of the individual property owner(s) for maintenance.  Public drainage easements are drainage easements dedicated to and accepted by the City of Bryan.

Who maintains public drainage infrastructure?

Within the City of Bryan all public drainage infrastructure is maintained by either the City of Bryan or Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT).  Through a Municipal Maintenance Agreement with TXDOT many items are maintained by the City of Bryan as well.  If you are not sure of the responsible party, you can contact the City of Bryan Public Works Call Center at 979-209-5900.

What is a storm water detention pond and how does it differ from a retention pond?

A detention pond, or “dry pond,” is an area that temporarily holds water, and can assist with flood control during rain events. A retention pond is an area that typically has a regular standing level of water and during rain events stores additional water.  Both types of ponds are designed to slowly release water after rain events. These ponds are a development tool to mitigate the increased from changing ground cover from pervious to impervious in the development process.  City staff reviews each new development project to determine if detention ponds are needed.  It is preferred for some developments adjacent to creeks or located in the lower portions of a watershed to convey its storm water runoff to the creek as quickly as possible without detention to avoid adverse impacts that can occur when detention is provided in these locations.

Is street flooding normal?

Yes, most streets are designed to carry storm water runoff during and after rain events. Depending on the capacity of storm sewers or roadside ditches, a street may be used more or less to “hold” rain water until the drainage system has sufficient space.  Most roadways are designed for water depths in the streets during heavy rain events to be deeper than the curbs are tall.    Current design requirements stipulate the 10-year storm to be handled by the storm sewer system and the 100-year storm contained within the public street right of way.  Many existing flood problems are caused by driveways being constructed such that the runoff from the streets drain down the driveway into garages and homes.  In older subdivisions and developments, even as recent as the 1990’s, the requirement to contain the 100-year storm in the street right of way did not exist.

Why is flooding a problem in some neighborhoods?

Multiple reasons exist for neighborhood or localized flooding. For example, older subdivisions may have been developed prior to current floodplain and storm water control understanding. Development may have occurred before current restrictions and regulations were in place. Storm water systems are typically constructed for a defined rain event (20 year, 50 year, 100 year, etc.), and when a large amount of rain occurs in a short amount of time, water takes its own course, which may result in flooding.  In 2007 the City of Bryan adopted a Flood Mitigation Plan to create a strategy for implementing flood mitigation measures for the community.  This plan can be viewed online here.

What causes flooding in Bryan?

Bryan is similar to other cities located in the eastern part of Texas with mostly flat terrain and some rolling hills, significant amounts of urban impervious cover (concrete, asphalt, and homes), slow-absorbing soil, and potential for heavy rainfall from thunderstorms, tropical storms, and hurricanes all combine to form ideal conditions for flooding. Due to its humid-subtropical climate and general proximity to the Texas coast, many cities in this region are susceptible to large amounts of rainfall that are often too great for its infrastructure and creeks to handle.

Is the growth of trees and grasses in the creeks a significant contributor to flooding in Bryan?

The major contributor to flooding in our area is the amount of rainfall received during a storm event.  Trees and vegetation in good condition have a relatively minor effect on overall flooding.  When vegetation becomes thick in a natural channel the effect is to slow down the stormwater runoff, decreasing the efficiency of the channel. However, this vegetation also provides benefits for erosion protection of the channel bank helping to prevent damage to surrounding properties from erosion.  Across the country communities are realizing the importance of maintaining creeks in a natural setting to increase wildlife habit and keep channels stable. Riparian canopies – mature trees surrounding a stream – shade out less desirable plant species.

My neighbor is impacting my yard drainage, who can I contact?

Issues involving drainage concerns due to private residences, such as overland flow from adjacent properties, drainage concerns caused by roof or gutter drainage, poor landscaping, etc., are private matters that should be worked out with your neighbor to reach a mutually agreeable solution.  The City does not have ordinances that address this situation and State Water Law makes this a civil matter between property owners.

My neighbor is dumping debris and grass clippings into the creek, what should I do?

As a citizen, you can assist by keeping the banks of ditches, streams, and creeks clear of brush and debris, and not allowing grass clippings, oil, or other contaminants in storm sewer inlets. Dumping of debris into ditches, streams, or creeks is a major cause of local drainage problems, and is a violation of the Bryan Code of Ordinances. To report a violation or a maintenance problem, please contact the City’s Municipal Services Center at 979-209-5900.

Floods, FEMA, Floodplains, Flood Hazard FAQ’s

What is the 100-year flood?

The 100-Year Flood is not a flood that occurs once every 100 years.  It is defined as a flood that statistically has a 1-percent chance of occurring in any given year.  Likewise, the term 100-Year Storm is used to define a rainfall event that statistically has the same 1-percent chance of occurring in any given year.  For comparison purposes a 2-year storm has a 50-percent chance of occurring in any given year.

What are some of the largest rain events Bryan has experienced in the last 50 years?

The top 5 daily rainfalls (as measured by Easterwood Airport rainfall) in the last 50 years are:

  1. 1994, October 16 – 13.39 inches
  2. 1983, May 20 – 6.23 inches
  3. 1994, December 15 – 5.79 inches
  4. 2016, May 26 – 5.76 inches
  5. 1991, January 9 – 5.63 inches

Prior to 1966, the following 2 storm events are notable (10 other events greater than 5 inches):

  1. 1947, August 26 – 9.89 inches
  2. 1915, August 17 – 8.45 inches

Localized totals may differ from these official rain gauges and rainfall is never uniform across the community, causing some areas of town to receive greater amounts of rainfall than other areas.

How does rainfall amounts correlate to storm recurrence interval?

rainfall duration image

What is a floodplain?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency defines a floodplain as “any land area susceptible to being inundated by floodwaters from any source.” In the City of Bryan, a floodplain is typically associated with an area susceptible to being flooded due to a channel’s or creek’s capacity being exceeded.  The 100-year Floodplain is the floodplain that is mapped and regulated in Bryan as required by FEMA through the National Flood Insurance Program.  Floodplains are natural features that serve to detain the storm water from invading urbanized areas.  Keeping the floodplains clear of adverse encroachments can help retain their beneficial functions.

Is my property in the 100-year floodplain?

To determine if your property is in the 100-year floodplain, it is best to contact the City’s Engineering Department at 979-209-5030.  The City’s Geographic Information System (GIS) includes a FEMA flood zones and topography overlay; however, there may be additional information such as Letters of Map Revision, pending studies, or local flooding issues that are not shown by just looking at the GIS layer.

What is a FIRM?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency produces Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) that delineate the 100-year floodplain and floodway which are called Special Flood Hazard Areas. These maps are for use in administering the National Flood Insurance Program. They do not necessarily identify all areas subject to flooding, particularly from local drainage sources of small size, or all features outside Special Flood Hazard Areas. Areas of special flood hazard (100-year flood) include Zones A, AE, AH, AO, A99, V, and VE.  These maps may change as new flood studies are produced or better elevation data such as new topographic maps are provided.  These maps can be viewed on the City’s website at FLOODPLAIN MAPS.

If a floodplain changes, can a structure that was not in the floodplain now be in the floodplain? What does that mean to the property owner?

Yes, as floodplains are altered/modified because of development or natural occurrences, original flood studies are determined to be in error, and/or new methods of analysis are used to evaluate floodplains, the result could be a change to a floodplain’s boundaries. Consequently, a home(s) that was not in the floodplain may now be in the “revised” floodplain. This change may result in increased flood insurance costs. Additionally, if a property owner decides to make modifications to a structure that is now determined to be in the floodplain, new development/building standards may be required to be met by the owner.

If my house is in the floodplain, what can I do to protect it?

You should consider purchasing flood insurance, if you do not already have it. A simple step to better safeguard important documents includes using watertight containers on a high shelf. Structure improvements might better protect your home from flooding; multiple sources should be reviewed to determine if an improvement is appropriate for you and your property. Download these FEMA publications to find out more about protecting your property:

What is an Elevation Certificate?

An elevation certificate is an official document prepared by Licensed Professional Engineers in the state of Texas or by licensed Professional Land Surveyors that provide specific elevation and flood zone information for structures located in the 100-year floodplain. The certificate is used to provide elevation information necessary to ensure compliance with floodplain management ordinances, to determine proper insurance premium rates, and support request for amendments to floodplain maps.

What is the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)?

The NFIP was established by Congress with the passage of the National Flood Insurance Act in 1968. In passing the Act, the federal government agreed to subsidize flood insurance in exchange for local communities agreeing to restrict development in Flood Hazard Areas to reduce the likelihood of flood damage. The Federal Insurance Administration, a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), administers the program, which has three objectives:

  • To provide Federally subsidized flood insurance for property owners;
  • To reduce flood damage to new construction; and,
  • To minimize future flood damage to existing structures.

What is flood insurance?

The National Flood Insurance Program aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures. It does so by providing affordable insurance to property owners and by encouraging communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations. These efforts help mitigate the effects of flooding on new and improved structures. Overall, the program reduces the socio-economic impact of disasters by promoting the purchase and retention of general risk insurance, but also of flood insurance, specifically. Note: flood damage is not typically covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy, unless such coverage is specifically requested.  Flood Insurance is only offered through the National Flood Insurance Program, but your insurance agent can arrange for you to purchase it.  The following link produced by FEMA covers common myths and misconceptions about flood insurance.  Dispelling Myths

Do I need flood insurance?

According to FEMA: “Even though flood insurance isn’t federally required, anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods. In fact, people outside of mapped high-risk flood areas file over 20-percent of all National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance claims and receive one-third of Federal Disaster Assistance for flooding. When it’s available, disaster assistance is typically a loan you must repay with interest. A Preferred Risk Policy provides both building and contents coverage for properties in moderate- to low-risk areas for one low-price. In high-risk areas, there is at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage. For these reasons, flood insurance is required by law for buildings in high-risk flood areas as a condition of receiving a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender.” Note: To be eligible for flood insurance you must live in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP); the City of Bryan participates in the NFIP.

How do I purchase flood insurance?

You can contact your home or business insurance provider who should be able to assist. Or you can visit the following FEMA/NFIP website:

https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/choose_your_policy/agent_locator.jsp

What is the Community Rating System and what does it mean to me?

The Community Rating System or CRS is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requirements.  The City of Bryan is a Class 6 member in the program which entitles residents in Special Flood Hazard Areas a 20% discount on their flood insurance premiums.  Although CRS communities represent only 5 percent of the over 22,000 communities participating in the NFIP, more than 68 percent of all flood insurance policies are written in CRS communities.

Storm Water Billing & Fee FAQ’s

What is the Drainage Fee on my utility bill?

The Drainage Fee is used to design, maintain, rebuild or construct City of Bryan drainage infrastructure. All residential and commercial utility customers pay the fee, which is based on various classifications including residential, small non-residential, medium non-residential, and large non-residential.  This fee is part of the fee listed on the utility bill as Transportation and Drainage Fee.

What is the history of the Drainage Utility Fee?

  1. Established a Drainage Utility on September 23,1997 through Ordinance #1079.
  2. Passed the fee resolution on October 14, 1997, Fee first charged in November 1997 utility bills through Resolution 2487 – was called Solid Waste System Drainage Service Fee. Initial rate was $1 per month per lot, tract or parcel served by Solid Waste.
  3. Resolution Number 2952 approved September 28, 2004 set drainage service rate at $2.40/month for both Residential and Commercial City of Bryan Solid Waste Customers.
  4. Ordinance 1535 was passed July 12, 2005 which repealed ordinances in conflict with the change to make basis of fee on a per lot basis for residential property and on Trip Generation, Land Use and Building Square Footage for non-residential property.
  5. Resolution 2998 was passed on July 12, 2005 setting the residential rate at $2/month and $7/month for small non-residential, $12/month for medium and $30/month for large. Effective rate on August 1, 2005.

How are the Drainage Fee funds used?

The Drainage Fee funds are used for engineering studies and drainage projects (Capital Improvement Projects and large maintenance repairs). The City’s Streets and Drainage Department is responsible for routine drainage maintenance within the city’s drainage easements.

Storm Water Development FAQ’s

What development restrictions exist in the floodplain?

Construction within a floodplain requires a Floodplain Development Permit – link provided here Development Permit. An application for a permit takes into consideration multiple factors, including potential danger to life and property, susceptibility of flooding, access to the property during flooding events, etc.  Through this Permit and Elevation Certificates the City of Bryan ensures new construction is built to an elevation that is at least 1 foot greater than the 100 year floodplain elevation.

Will a flood study be required?

A flood study may be required depending on the location of the development within the floodplain.  Any encroachment within the floodway will require a study performed by a licensed professional engineer.

What other requirements are there to develop within the floodplain?

Most structures will be required to elevate at least 1 foot above the floodplain elevation and an elevation certificate will need to be submitted.

Respond to Our Flooding Questionnaire

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