About The Illinois Floodplain Map Modernization Project

Today, maps depicting flood hazards in Illinois are primarily paper maps. These paper floodplain maps, used for regulatory and flood insurance purposes as well as identifying sensitive riparian corridors, are called Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or FIRMs. Many of Illinois’ maps are outdated, some as much as 20 years. The statewide average age of Illinois FIRM maps is nine years. Illinois is not unique; nationwide, many floodplain maps are out of date. Funded by Congress, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has launched the Map Modernization Program, a 1 billion dollar, 5-year program to develop fully digital floodplain maps nationwide. The new digital floodplain maps use geographic information system (GIS) technology and local involvement is stressed to assure that data incorporated in the maps is up to date and accurate.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has signed a Cooperating Technical Partnership Agreement to fully participate in the Map Modernization Program. The IDNR Office of Water Resources (OWR) and the State Water Survey (SWS) are working jointly to prepare floodplain maps for most of Illinois following the new digital standards. The SWS is providing the technical expertise to prepare the digital products and conduct new hydrologic and hydraulic flood studies in critical areas. The OWR is providing community outreach, updating the text of Flood Insurance Studies, and working with communities through the preliminary and post preliminary map adoption process. OWR is also providing assistance to communities who are updating their ordinance. Click Here for an explanation of Map Modernization at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

In 2003, FEMA contracted with independent consulting firms to begin DFIRM production in 5 Illinois Counties: Winnebago, McHenry, Peoria, St. Clair, and Madison. DuPage County has a CTP agreement with FEMA and has completed the initial conversion to the new DFIRM format.

The IDNR OWR and SWS will prepare the floodplain maps and Flood Insurance Studies for 96 counties in Illinois. IDNR began working in 2004 to prepare digital maps for five counties in Illinois. DFIRM production began for 11 additional counties in 2005.

Illinois has taken an aggressive step to fully participate in Map Modernization, recognizing that participation benefits the people of Illinois by providing state expertise for the best flood hazard mapping product.

Also See: Storms & Floods Fall, 2005 for an article on map modernization in Illinois.