“Erosion" means a wearing away of land by the action of natural forces such as wind or water; on a coastal floodplain, the carrying away of soil by wave action.
“Flood" or “flooding" means a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas caused by:
The rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source;
The inundation caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels along the shore of Lake Michigan or Lake Superior; and
The sudden increase caused by an unusually high water level in a natural body of water, accompanied by a severe storm, or by an unanticipated force of nature, such as a seiche, or by some similarly unusual event.
“Flood frequency" means the probability of a flood occurrence. A flood frequency is generally determined from statistical analyses. The frequency of a particular flood event is usually expressed as occurring, on the average, once in a specified number of years or as a percent (%) chance of occurring in any given year.
NR 116.03 Note
Note: For example, a 100-year flood event is expected to occur, or be exceeded, on the average of once in every 100 years, or which has a 1% chance of occurring or being exceeded in any given year. Any particular flood event could, however, occur more frequently than once in any given year.
“Floodfringe" means that portion of the floodplain outside of the floodway, which is covered by flood water during the regional flood. The term, “floodfringe" is generally associated with standing water rather than flowing water.
“Flood of record" means the highest known flood, the elevation of which can be determined through the use of physical or photographic data.
“Floodplain" means that land which has been or may be covered by flood water during the regional flood. The floodplain includes the floodway, floodfringe, shallow depth flooding, flood storage and coastal floodplain areas.
“Floodplain island" means a natural geologic land formation within the floodplain that is surrounded, but not covered, by flood water during the regional flood.
“Floodplain management" means the full range of public policy and action for insuring wise use of floodplains. It includes everything from the collection and dissemination of flood data to the acquisition of floodplain lands and the enactment and administration of codes, ordinances and statutes for land use in the floodplain.
“Floodproofing" means any combination of structural provisions, changes or adjustments to properties and structures, water and sanitary facilities and contents of buildings subject to flooding, for the purpose of reducing or eliminating flood damage.
“Flood protection elevation" means an elevation 2 feet above the regional flood elevation.
“Flood storage" means those floodplain areas where storage of flood waters has been taken into account in reducing the regional flood discharge.
“Floodway" means the channel of a river or stream, and those portions of the floodplain adjoining the channel required to carry the regional flood discharge.
“Freeboard" means a flood protection elevation requirement designed as a safety factor which is usually expressed in terms of a specified number of feet above a calculated flood level. Freeboard compensates for the effects of many factors that contribute to flood heights greater than those calculated. These factors include, but are not limited to, ice jams, debris accumulation, wave action, obstruction of bridge openings and floodways, the effects of urbanization on the hydrology of the watershed, loss of flood storage areas due to development and aggradation of the river or stream bed.
“Habitable building" means any building, or portion thereof used for human habitation.
“High flood damage potential" means potential damage as a result of flooding that is associated with any danger to life or health or any significant economic loss to a structure or building and its contents.
“Human habitation" means a human residence or dwelling.
“Hydraulic floodway lines" means those lines that delineate those portions of floodplain including the channel which are required to convey the regional flood discharge without any increase in regional flood heights.
“Increase in regional flood height" means a calculated upward rise in the regional flood elevation, equal to or greater than 0.01 foot, resulting from a comparison of existing conditions and proposed conditions which is directly attributable to development in the floodplain but not attributable to manipulation of mathematical variables such as roughness factors, expansion and contraction coefficients and discharge.
“Levee" means a continuous dike or embankment of earth constructed to prevent flooding of certain areas of land.
“Littoral drift" means the movement of sedimentary material along the Lake Michigan or Lake Superior shoreline due to wave action and water currents.
“Mobile recreational vehicle" means a recreational vehicle that is carried, towed or self-propelled; is licensed for highway use, if registration is required; and is always capable of being driven or towed by a licensed vehicle.
“Municipality" or “municipal" means a county, city or village.
“NGVD" or “National Geodetic Vertical Datum" means elevations referenced to mean sea level datum, 1929 adjustment.
“Nonconforming building" means an existing lawful building which is not in conformity with the dimensional or structural requirements of the floodplain zoning ordinance for the area of the floodplain which it occupies.
“Nonconforming use" means an existing lawful use or accessory use of a structure, building or development which is not in conformity with the provisions of the floodplain zoning ordinance for the area of the floodplain which it occupies.
“Obstruction to flow" means any development which physically blocks the conveyance of flood waters such that this development by itself or in conjunction with any future similar development will cause an increase in regional flood height.
“Official floodway lines" means those lines which have been approved by the department, adopted by the municipality, and which are shown on the official floodplain zoning maps and used for regulatory purposes. The official floodway lines are established assuming that the area landward of the floodway lines will not be available to convey flood flows.
“Open space use" means a use which has a relatively low flood damage potential, such as uses associated with agriculture, recreation, parking, storage yards, or certain sand and gravel operations.
“Private sewage system" means a sewage treatment and disposal system serving a single structure with a septic tank and soil absorption field located on the same parcel as the structure. This term also means an alternative sewage system approved by the department of industry, labor and human relations including a substitute for the septic tank or soil absorption field, a holding tank, a system serving more than one structure or a system located on a different parcel than the structure.
“Public utilities" means those utilities which employ underground or overhead transmission lines such as electric, telephone and telegraph, and distribution and collection systems such as water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer.
“Rapidly urbanizing watershed" means a watershed where more than 20% of the land area of the watershed has been developed for residential, commercial or industrial uses or where development of the watershed is projected to grow at a rate of 10% or more in the next 10-year period.
“Regional flood" means a flood determined to be representative of large floods known to have occurred in Wisconsin or which may be expected to occur on a particular lake, river or stream once in every 100 years.
NR 116.03 Note
Note: The regional flood is based upon a statistical analysis of lake level or streamflow records available for the watershed or an analysis of rainfall and runoff characteristics in the watershed or both. The flood frequency of the regional flood is once in every 100 years. In any given year, there is a 1% chance that the regional flood may occur or be exceeded. During a typical 30-year mortgage period, the regional flood has a 26% chance of occurring.
“Shallow depth flooding areas" means those areas where the maximum depth of flooding does not exceed one foot in depth nor 6 hours in duration during the regional flood.
“Special exception" or “conditional use" has the meaning designated in sub. (5)
“Stormwater management" means public policy and action to control stormwater runoff associated with development within a rapidly urbanizing watershed in order to prevent the occurrence of, or an increase in, flood damage potential. It includes, but is not limited to, development of stormwater runoff data, flood profiles and enactment and administration of ordinances regulating land use in a watershed.
“Structure" means any man-made object with form, shape and utility, either permanently or temporarily attached to or placed upon the ground, river bed, stream bed or lakebed.
“Study" means any analysis that results in the calculation of discharge or elevation of the regional flood or the determination or delineation of boundary lines for any area within a floodplain.
“Undeveloped area" means an area which is not a developed area.
“Unnecessary hardship" means that circumstance where special conditions affecting a particular property, which were not self-created, have made strict conformity with restrictions governing areas, setbacks, frontage, height or density unnecessarily burdensome or unreasonable in light of the purposes of the ordinance.
“Variance" means an authorization by the board of adjustment or appeals under s. NR 116.21 (4)
, for the construction or maintenance of a building or structure in a manner which is inconsistent with dimensional standards contained in the floodplain zoning ordinance.
NR 116.03 Note
Note: A variance can only be granted by the board of adjustment or appeals. A variance may not permit a use of property otherwise prohibited by the floodplain zoning ordinance or allow construction not protected to the flood protection elevation; it may, however, permit deviations from dimensional standards.
“Watershed" means the entire region or area contributing runoff or surface water to a particular watercourse or body of water.
“Water surface profile" means a graphical representation showing the elevation of the water surface of a watercourse for each position along a reach of river or stream at a certain flood flow. A water surface profile of the regional flood is used in regulating floodplain areas.
“Well" means an excavation or opening in the ground made by digging, boring, drilling, driving or other methods, for the purpose of obtaining groundwater regardless of its intended use.
“Zoning agency" means a commission, board, committee or agency created or designated by the governing body of a municipality which acts on matters pertaining to planning or zoning. Under the provisions of s. 62.23 (7) (d) 2.
, Stats., the term “zoning agency" also includes the governing body of a city or village.
NR 116.03 History
Cr. Register, February, 1986, No. 362
, eff. 3-1-86; cr. (1e), (1s), (30m), Register, June, 1996, No. 486
, eff. 7-1-96; CR 03-091
: cr. (6m) Register August 2004 No. 584
, eff. 9-1-04.
Adoption and upgrading of floodplain zoning ordinances. NR 116.05(1)(1)
Municipalities shall adopt, administer and enforce reasonable floodplain zoning ordinances for all floodplains where serious flood damage may occur within their respective jurisdictions. These ordinances shall meet or exceed the standards in this chapter.
(2) Inclusion in local regulations, codes and programs.
Where necessary, to insure the effectiveness of floodplain management and zoning objectives, the standards in this chapter shall be included in subdivision regulations, building and sanitary codes, flood insurance regulations, stormwater management regulations and other related programs.
Where the department finds that one or more of the following regulations, codes or programs will accomplish the purpose of s. NR 116.01
, these regulations, codes or programs may be substituted in lieu of all or portions of floodplain zoning ordinances:
Zoning, acquisition of flooding easements or purchase of floodplain lands to permit only open space uses in floodplain areas.
(4) Upgrading ordinances.
Within 6 months from the time any of the information listed below is made available to a municipality by the department, the municipality shall upgrade its floodplain zoning ordinance, using the amendment procedure in s. NR 116.21
, to reflect current floodplain information, including, but not limited to, the following:
NR 116.05 History
Cr. Register, February, 1986, No. 362
, eff. 3-1-86.
Areas to be regulated.
Municipalities shall develop floodplain zoning maps, reflecting the best available data, which show the areas to be regulated. They shall also develop floodplain zoning ordinances to define proper uses in those regulated areas. These floodplain maps and zoning ordinances shall regulate all floodplains where serious flood damage may occur. The minimum limits for regulatory purposes shall be all those areas covered by water during the regional flood.
NR 116.06 History
Cr. Register, February, 1986, No. 362
, eff. 3-1-86.
Standards for hydrologic and hydraulic studies. NR 116.07(1)(1)
The standards contained in this section shall be the basis for developing both hydrologic and hydraulic information to be used by municipalities for developing floodplain zoning maps and flood profiles, as defined in s. NR 116.09
, and for administration of existing floodplain zoning ordinances as defined in s. NR 116.20 (2)
. The department shall review and approve all studies performed or completed under this section prior to use by any municipality.
(2) Certification and responsibility of the study contractor.
Studies shall be completed under the direct supervision of the study contractor who is a registered professional engineer in the state of Wisconsin. The study contractor shall be responsible for the technical adequacy of the study.
(3) Hydrologic analysis — determination of regional flood discharge. NR 116.07(3)(a)(a) Techniques.
Studies to determine the regional flood flow discharge may use the following techniques, if done in accordance with the requirements of par. (b)
The log-Pearson Type III distribution method as described in Bulletin #17B of the Hydrology Committee, U.S. Water Resources Council, entitled “Guidelines For Determining Flood Flow Frequency", September, 1981.
The current USGS empirical equations, developed from regression analysis of stream gaging data. (See USGS publication entitled “Technique for Estimating Magnitude and Frequency of Floods in Wisconsin", by Conger, March, 1981.)
Synthetic hydrographs, which are combined and routed through the basin to the downstream end of the study area.
When using the synthetic hydrograph technique in subd. 3.
, the results shall be calibrated to past events where such information is available.
Technical Release No. 55 (TR55), entitled “Urban Hydrology For Small Watersheds", Engineering Division, SCS, U.S.D.A., January, 1975.
(b) Required use of techniques.
The following shall be the minimum standards for determining the regional flood flow discharge:
The techniques to determine skew under par. (a) 1.
may not be used if data from a gaging station in the watershed is not available or is available for a period of less than 10 years. In other cases, the technique to determine skew in par. (a) 1.
shall be modified as follows:
If data from a gaging station in the watershed is available for 10 or more years but less than 26 years, the station skew shall be weighted with zero skew in accordance with Bulletin #17B.
If data from a gaging station in the watershed is available for 26 or more years, the station skew shall be used.
Skew values differing from those obtained in subd. 1. a.
may be used if they are approved by the department.