General Information and Tips

Maintaining the flow capacity in streams that cross City properties requires cooperation and assistance to prevent flooding and bank erosion. Following are some suggestions and information for understanding the ways that floodplains function and how the City regulates the floodplain in order to protect property and lives, while affording citizens the ability to obtain floodplain insurance.

General Information

City Floodplain Information Services
The City can determine the relationship of a particular property to the floodplain, including:

1) whether the property is located within the Special Flood Hazard Area;
2) Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) Zone for property;
3) Base Flood Elevation for property, if available; and
4) whether the property is located within the Floodway.

Contact the Ephrata Community Development Department at (509) 754-4601 for further information.
Reduce risk of damage to homes
Practical and cost-effective methods for reducing or eliminating the risk of flooding are available to property owners whose homes have experienced damage from flooding in the past, or may experience damage in the future. Such techniques include elevation of the home, relocating the home to higher ground, constructing floodwalls or berms, flood-proofing and protecting utilities. For further information, contact the Ephrata Community Development Department at (509) 754-4601 and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Region X at (425) 487-4600. 

During times of flooding, homes that have not been retrofitted can be protected during emergencies by the installation of sandbags. For further information about sandbags and the locations of sites where sandbags are available during flooding, contact the County's Department of Emergency Management at (509) 762-1462, or visit their Web site at: In case of an emergency, call 911.
Remove debris, trash, loose branches and vegetation
Keep banks clear of brush and debris to help maintain an unobstructed flow of water in drainage channels. Do not, however, remove vegetation that is actively growing on a drainage bank. Streamside vegetation is tightly regulated by local, state and federal regulations.

Before undertaking any removal of streamside vegetation, contact the Ephrata Community Development Department at (509) 754-4601 or the Grant County Planning Department at (509) 754-2011.

Please report any observations of the clearing of vegetation or trees on drainageways or stream banks to the City of Ephrata at (509) 754-4601 or Grant County Planning Department at (509) 754-2011.
Do not dump or throw anything into ditches or streams
 A plugged channel cannot carry water, and when it rains, the excess water must go somewhere. Trash and vegetation dumped into a stream degrades water quality of both the stream itself and its receiving waters, and every piece of trash contributes to flooding. 

The City has adopted and enforces regulations that prohibit the dumping of material into any natural or manmade component of the stormwater drainage system. Additionally, the City as a whole has adopted and enforces regulations that prohibit the illegal dumping of material, including material dumped into ditches, streams or other drainageways.

Please report any observations of the dumping of debris or other objects into drainageways to the City Community Development Department at (509) 754-4601.
Obtain a floodplain development permit and / or building permit, if required
To minimize damage to structures during flood events, the City requires all new construction in the floodplain to be anchored against movement by floodwaters, resistant to flood forces, constructed with flood-resistant materials and flood-proofed or elevated so that the first floor of living space, as well as all mechanical and services, is at least 2 feet above the elevation of the 100-year flood. These standards apply to new structures and to substantial improvements of existing structures. The City defines a Substantial Improvement as any reconstruction, rehabilitation, or addition to an existing structure, the cost of which exceeds 50 percent of the structure's appraised or market value (whichever the builder chooses to use). Additionally, most other types of development within the floodplain also require a floodplain development permit, such as grading, cut and fill, installation of riprap and other bank stabilization techniques.

City staff are available to undertake site visits, if requested, to review flood, drainage and sewer issues. Contact the City of Ephrata Community Development Department at (509) 754-4601 for further information and prior to undertaking any activity within the floodplain.
Recognize the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains to help reduce flooding
Floodplains are a natural component of the Ephrata environment. Understanding and protecting the natural functions of floodplains helps reduce flood damage and protect resources. When flooding spreads out across the floodplain, its energy is dissipated, which results in lower flood flows downstream, reduced erosion of the streambank and channel, deposition of sediments higher in the watershed and improved groundwater recharge. Poorly planned development in floodplains can lead to erosion, loss of valuable property and increased risk of flooding to downstream properties.

Safety Tips

Prepare an evacuation plan
Before the floodwaters hit, develop an evacuation plan among all members of a household that includes a meeting place outside of the house, as well as an escape route out of the floodplain and away from floodwaters. 
Do not walk through flowing water
Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths, mostly during flash floods. Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. If you walk in standing water, use a pole or stick to ensure that the ground is still there.
Do not drive through a flooded area
More people drown in their cars than anywhere else. Don't drive around road barriers; the road or bridge may be washed out.
Stay away from power lines and electrical wires
The number two flood killer after drowning is electrocution. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to the Grant County PUD or the County Emergency Management Office.
Shut off gas and electricity and move valuable contents upstairs
Be prepared in advance with a detailed checklist because warning of an impending flood may provide little time for preparation prior to evacuation.
Look out for animals, especially snakes
Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Use a pole or stick to poke and turn things over and scare away small animals.
Look before you step
After a flood, the ground and floors are covered with debris including broken bottles and nails. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be very slippery.
Be alert for gas leaks

Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Don't smoke or use candles, lanterns or open flames unless you know that the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated.