The effort local governmental officials are investing in convincing FEMA that a 1,435 foot level is adequate for a flood plain is work that matters, and it matters more than many residents may realize. A higher level like the 1,438 mark FEMA has apparently settled upon will have negative consequences in Brown County for decades to come.
For starters, the higher level will force many property owners around Lake Brownwood to purchase flood insurance which almost eight decades of history have proven they don’t need. That fact will also affect developers’ interest, and individuals’ willingness, to build in prime residential areas.
Next, those ramifications will trickle downstream and through Brownwood and Early. A higher flood plain level means local governments will be obligated to prepare for potentially higher flood levels.
A higher level will also mean the Brown County Water Improvement District will need to develop a plan for whatever footage is included in the flood plain that is above its 1,435 water impoundment easement. That would be expensive.
While the flood plain should not be arbitrarily high, it must be high enough to include the flooding from a vast majority of anticipated storms. Local officials have gone to extreme measures to prove not only to FEMA, but also to themselves, that the 1,435 level is reasonable and defendable with current relevant data — and 77 years of history. But the ball may now be moving from the engineers into the politicians’ court.