Engineering

The Engineering Department’s mission is to provide well-organized, cost effective municipal engineering services to the citizens and business community of Vestavia Hills.

Our engineers and departmental staff oversee the City’s public properties and rights-of-way, as well as subdivision developments, stormwater management and infrastructure improvements while protecting the public health, safety and welfare of the residents of Vestavia Hills. This includes inspection and oversight of Vestavia Hills roadways, bridges, storm sewers, stormwater management and other civil engineering projects as identified and funded in the City’s annual budget.

Contact Us

Vestavia Hills Department of Public Services
1032 Montgomery Highway, Vestavia Hills, AL 35216
205.978.0150
Hours 7:30am-5pm Monday-Friday

City Engineer | Christopher Brady, PE, CFM | cbrady@vhal.org
Assistant City Engineer, Traffic Engineering | Lori Beth Kearley, PE | lbkearley@vhal.org
Engineering Inspection | Jay Turner | jturner@vhal.org
Engineering Technician | Butch Jerrolds | bjerrolds@vhal.org
Office Administrator | Jennifer Swann | jswann@vhal.org

Stormwater Management

Lunch & Learn Cahaba Heights Stormwater 06.01.2021

The 100-Year Flood

The following is adapted from by WTG Flood Resource Center, December 9, 2016, Flood News, Flood Zones & Determination; and FEMA Glossary, https://www.fema.gov/about/glossary

What is a 100-year Flood?

As development in the U.S. grew, the National Flood Insurance Program was developed out of the need for a system to evaluate levels of risk for home-owners’ structures. The goal of the program was to designate which property owners would or would not be required to carry flood insurance based on their location and related risk of flooding. The 100-year flood became the standard measure to identify the flood insurance requirement, as it was the fairest balance between offering reasonable protection and creating an overly stringent regulation.

So, what does the term “100-year flood” actually means and how does it affect property and flood insurance coverage? The 100-year flood zone is a designated area that has a 1-in-100 chance (or 1% chance) of flooding in any given year. This also means it can flood more than once within a 100-year period and can even flood more than once in the same year. The 100-year flood is synonymous with several other terms, including Base Flood, 1% Annual Chance Flood, High Risk Flood Zone and Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). The 100 year-flood zone is any zone containing the letters “A” or “V.” When your structure is within one of these 100-year flood zones, flood insurance is REQUIRED by FEMA.

Structures and/or properties located in any part of a Special Flood Hazard Area (high-risk flood zone) have a 26% chance of flooding during the life of a standard 30-year mortgage. Never underestimate your true risk! and remember, flood risk CAN and DOES change over time. In fact, FEMA is constantly updating maps all over the country. When new maps are issued, your risk may have changed, along with your flood insurance requirements.

Protect Yourself

Consider flood insurance if you are close to a Special Flood Hazard Area. Do not ignore flood insurance, even if you are far from a high-hazard flood zone. FEMA statistics state that 25-30% of all flood insurance claims are paid in moderate-low risk areas.

You may also confirm (or challenge) your flood zone status but obtaining a flood determination report. This report provides information about a specific property or structure (home, office, storage facility, etc.) and confirms the location in correlation to the flood zone. Reports are generally low-cost and available via online service providers.

FEMA Glossary Terms

See more at https://www.fema.gov/about/glossary

100-year Flood Zone
Synonymous with Base Flood, 1% Annual Chance Flood, High Risk Flood Zone and Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). A designated area that has a 1-in-100 chance (or 1% chance) of flooding in any given year. This also means it can flood more than once within a 100-year period and can even flood more than once in the same year. The 100 year-flood zone is any zone containing the letters “A” or “V.” When your structure is within one of these 100-year flood zones, flood insurance is REQUIRED by FEMA.

Base Flood
A flood having a one percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. This is the regulatory standard also referred to as the “100-year flood.” The base flood is the national standard used by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and all Federal agencies for the purposes of requiring the purchase of flood insurance and regulating new development. Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) are typically shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).

Base Flood Elevation (BFE)
The elevation of surface water resulting from a flood that has a 1% chance of equaling or exceeding that level in any given year. The BFE is shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for zones AE, AH, A1–A30, AR, AR/A, AR/AE, AR/A1– A30, AR/AH, AR/AO, V1–V30 and VE.

Flood Map
Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), Flood Boundary and Floodway Map (FBFM), and Flood Hazard Boundary Map (FHBM) are all flood maps produced by FEMA. The FIRM is the most common type of map and most communities have this type of map. At a minimum, flood maps show flood risk zones and their boundaries, and may also show floodways and Base Flood Elevations (BFEs). The FBFM is a version of a flood map that shows only the floodway and flood boundaries. The FBFM is no longer produced; current FIRMs include all of this information. The FHBM is an older version of a flood map and is based on approximate data.

More recent flood map products include digital FIRMs, which are created using digital methods and can be incorporated into a community’s Geographic Information System (GIS). FEMA has also produced Q3 Flood Data, which includes certain features of the FIRM, and may be used for insurance purposes and planning activities. The Q3 cannot be used as the official NFIP map for site design or flood risk determinations.

Flood Zones
Flood hazard areas identified on the Flood Insurance Rate Map are identified as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). SFHA are defined as the area that will be inundated by the flood event having a 1% chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. The 1% annual chance flood is also referred to as the base flood or 100-year flood. SFHAs are labeled as Zone A, Zone AO, Zone AH, Zones A1-A30, Zone AE, Zone A99, Zone AR, Zone AR/AE, Zone AR/AO, Zone AR/A1-A30, Zone AR/A, Zone V, Zone VE, and Zones V1-V30. Moderate flood hazard areas, labeled Zone B or Zone X (shaded) are also shown on the FIRM, and are the areas between the limits of the base flood and the 0.2% annual chance (or 500-year) flood. The areas of minimal flood hazard, which are the areas outside the SFHA and higher than the elevation of the 0.2% annual chance flood, are labeled Zone C or Zone X (unshaded).

ZONE A: No Base Flood Elevations determined.
ZONE AE: Base Flood Elevations determined.
ZONE AH: Flood depths of 1 to 3 feet (usually areas of ponding); Base Flood Elevations determined.
ZONE AO: Flood depths of 1 to 3 feet (usually sheet flow on sloping terrain); average depths determined. For areas of alluvial fan flooding, velocities also determined.
ZONE AR: Special Flood Hazard Area formerly protected from the 1% annual chance flood by a flood control system that was subsequently decertified. Zone AR indicates that the former flood control system is being restored to provide protection from the 1% annual chance or greater flood.
ZONE A99: Area to be protected from 1% annual chance flood by a Federal flood protection system under construction; no Base Flood Elevations determined.
ZONE V: Coastal flood zone with velocity hazard (wave action); no Base Flood Elevations determined.
ZONE VE: Coastal flood zone with velocity hazard (wave action); Base Flood Elevations determined.

Floodplain Management Plan

  • 2018 Floodplain Management Plan
  • FEMA Map Center – The FEMA Flood Map Service Center (MSC) is the official public source for flood hazard information produced in support of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Use the MSC to find your official flood map, access a range of other flood hazard products, and take advantage of tools for better understanding flood risk.

Traffic Calming Policy & Studies

Additional Links

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my property is located in a flood zone?

Call the City Engineering Department at 205.978.0150. We will perform a search based on the address of your property and provide you with any applicable documentation that has been provided by FEMA. Be advised that the City of Vestavia Hills does not provide elevation certificates or perform land surveying for this purpose. If needed, it is the responsibility of the property owner to contract with an independent land surveyor to provide this service.

What is the process for constructing a new driveway or repairing an existing driveway?

A Driveway Permit is required for all new driveway construction. Any repairs to existing driveways need to be coordinated with the City Engineering Department to determine permitting and inspection requirements.

What materials are considered illegal to dump into a storm drain or system?

It is illegal to dump trash, leaves, yard clippings, oil, paint or any other item into any storm system, whether that system be an inlet or an open ditch. Eventually all storm systems dump into a stream or a creek. If you see a person or company illegally dumping any item into a storm drain or ditch, call 205.978.0140 or use the City action center to report it. You do not have to leave your name or number if you do not wish to. Be prepared to give us the location of the storm system being illegally dumped into, and the Engineering Department will respond.

What is public right-of-way?

Simply put, the public right-of-way is property that has been dedicated for public use. A typical roadway right-of-way is 50’, typically estimated to be 25’ from the roadway centerline although in some cases the roadway does not lie within the center of the roadway. The most accurate way to determine where the public right-of-way begins is to have a surveyor locate your property pins/markers along your property.

What does the City maintain within the public right-of-way, and what is my responsibility as homeowner?

The City maintains all components of the roadway system within the right-of-way. This includes asphalt, curbing, gutters, sidewalks, and storm drainage structures (within the right-of-way). All landscaped areas behind the curb/pavement or between the curb/pavement and the sidewalks should be maintained by the abutting property owner. This includes maintenance of trees and shrubbery to prevent sight line obstructions.

Where should I locate my mailbox and what materials can I use?

The City does not have any policy or regulations related to installation of mailboxes on local streets. With that said, only mailboxes with break-away posts are encouraged within the roadway right-of-way. Rigid objects close to the roadway can become hazards for vehicles that may leave the pavement. Break-away posts are designed and constructed to break upon impact. This protects drivers that may veer from the road and eliminates any potential risk for you should an accident occur. Any mailbox construction/installation on a state roadway or County Through Road are subject to state or County regulations. Any questions related to mailboxes along those roadways should be routed to either ALDOT or Jefferson County. A list of those roadways can be provided, if needed.

What drainage inlets, pipes, open ditches, etc. does the City maintain?

The City maintains all drainage inlets, pipes and culverts within the public right-of-way. A typical roadway right-of-way is 50’, typically estimated to be 25’ from the roadway centerline although in some cases the roadway does not lie within the center of the roadway. All drainage inlets, pipes and culverts outside of the right-of-way are the responsibility of the homeowner. Citizens can help maintain a well-functioning drainage system by mowing vegetation in ditches and keeping all debris, including leaves and grass clippings, out of the ditches and storm drains. It is detrimental to the function of the drainage system to intentionally dump leaves, grass clippings, litter and other debris into ditches. Open ditches with maintained grass are preferred in order to provide erosion protection as well as a natural filtration system. Tree saplings and overgrowth are only removed from ditch banks by public works crews when warranted for access due to maintenance needs, or if drainage flow is obstructed. Any routine trimming of grass and vegetation in any ditch is the responsibility of the property owner.

What is a public utility and/or drainage easement, and what does that mean?

Utility or drainage easements are private property owned by the property owner the easement runs across.