All waterways can flood. Some rivers and streams flood more often and with more potential damage. These Special Flood Hazard Areas (regulated Floodplains) typically have at least a 1% chance of flooding in any given year—over a 30-year mortgage, that adds up to a 26% chance of being flooded at least once! As of 2017, over 330 buildings in Archuleta County, including the town of Pagosa Springs, with a value of over $84.5 million are located in a regulated Floodplain.
Development: The division of a parcel of land into two or more lots; the construction, reconstruction, conversion, structural alteration, relocation or enlargement of any structure or use; any mining, excavation, landfill or land disturbance; any new use or extension of a permitted use; or the extension or alteration of the scope of a use, as well as the storage of equipment or materials.
Development in a floodplain affects public health, safety and general welfare, and special federal, state and local requirements apply in addition to the usual Land Use Regulations. Section 10 Floodplain Regulations outlines requirements for Archuleta County, including the San Juan River, Mill Creek, McCabe Creek, Stollsteimer Creek, Rio Blanco, Navajo River, Piedra River, and other creeks and lakes. Property along the San Juan River and McCabe Creek within Town limits are covered by the Town's regulations.
Any Development on property in a regulatory floodplain (Special Flood Hazard Area) requires a Floodplain Development Permit after a Pre-Application Conference. Archuleta County approves about a dozen Floodplain Development Permits in a typical year (List of recent approved FDPs).
While local regulations do not require flood insurance, it is often a good idea even if you are not in a regulated floodplain. Flood insurance is required with a government-backed mortgage for property in a floodplain. Information is available on FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) website.
Are you in a regulated floodplain? Check the FEMA Flood Map Service Center or call the Planning Department at 970.264.1390.