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Below is a summary of relevant chapters of Iowa Administrative Code that regulate flood plain development. Following each summary is a link to the full text of the chapter.
The Administrative Procedures Act, Iowa Code chapter 17A, requires all state agencies to promulgate rules for the operation of their programs. The rulemaking process increases agencies’ accountability to the public, allows public participation in the formulation of rules, and provides legislative oversight for program operations.
Below are the recent rulemaking activities that are being considered, have been proposed, or are in the process of being adopted by the DNR for the chapters administered by the Flood Plain Management & Dam Safety section. Many of these proposals are a direct result of the comprehensive five year rule review required by 17A.7(2).
There are no anticipated rulemakings currently.
There are no active rulemakings underway.
Chapter(s) involved: 567 IAC 70, 567 IAC 71, and 567 IAC 72
Effective date: November 16, 2016
These rule changes streamline certain development within Iowa’s flood plains. The changes can be grouped into three different categories:
Rescinded or Changed Rules
The rule changes rescind the Q50 backwater criterion (567 IAC 72.1(1)“a”). The Q50 backwater criterion regulated the amount of pooled surface water allowed during a 2-percent-annual-chance flood event. This criterion was difficult for those constructing bridges to meet, including IDOT. In addition, the criterion provided little to no benefit to landowners and was not required by any federal law.
The changed rules also provide an alternative means to satisfy the minimum freeboard requirement (567 IAC 72.1(1)“b”). Freeboard, in the context of the flood plain rules, is space between the lowest part of a bridge and the water surface. The rule change provides an exception to the minimum criterion for freeboard; so long as a licensed engineer provides certification that the bridge is properly designed to withstand the relevant forces of water during flood conditions.
The finalized rulemaking also added exemptions to DNR’s flood plain development permit requirements for certain activities such as excavations installed for conservation practices (567 IAC 71.11(1)”e”) and for the installation of signs, utility poles and other similar structures (567 IAC 71.12(3)). DNR developed these exemptions in cooperation with stakeholders such as electric generating utilities and the NRCS.
In 2000, the Iowa legislature established minimum criteria which must be met in order to receive a waiver or variance from any executive branch rule. These are found at Iowa Code section 17A.9A. To implement this statutory provision, the DNR adopted 561 IAC Chapter 10 in 2001. However, the DNR never modified the agency’s waiver and variance provision for flood plains (567 IAC 72.31), which was promulgated years before the enactment of Iowa Code section 17A.9A and is inconsistent with the Iowa Code. For that reason, 567 IAC 72.31 was changed to reference 561 IAC Chapter 10. This will alleviate confusion as to what criteria must be met in order to receive a waiver or variance, and it will ensure that any waiver or variance granted by the DNR is compliant with the Iowa Code.
The rule changes were adopted and filed by the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) on September 20, 2016. Final approval was granted at the November 14, 2016 Administrative Rules Review Committee (ARRC) meeting.
Links to additional information or documents: