Flood Facts

Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural hazards. Some floods develop slowly, but flash floods can happen in just minutes.

Arvada has several drainage ways and floodplains throughout the city and at some point, most of them do see high water or flooding of adjacent streets.  There are three sources of flooding in Arvada: overbank flooding when creeks overflow their banks, flooding from irrigation canals, and street flooding.  The major creeks and irrigation canals in Arvada include: Ralston Creek, Leyden Creek, Van Bibber Creek, Clear Creek, Little Dry Creek, the Farmer’s High Line Canal, Croke Canal, and the Church Ditch.

During a flood, safety should be your first priority.  Did you know that six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet?  Therefore, never walk through flowing water and use a pole or stick to make sure of the depth before you walk through standing water.  Do not drive through flooded areas; more flood victims drown in their cars than anywhere else.  If your home has been flooded, shut off the gas and electricity if you are able.

Arvada has many homes that are located in the 100-year floodplain, with the majority of those homes being constructed prior to the identification and mapping of floodplains.  Flood insurance may be required by your mortgage company and is available through the National Flood Insurance Program. This Federal program provides flood insurance to property owners in exchange for the careful management of flood-prone areas by local communities.  Regular homeowner’s insurance does not cover damage caused by floods and there is a 26% chance of a flood occurring during a 30 year mortgage if your property is in a floodplain.

Insurance Facts You Should Know:

  • You can find out if your property is located in a floodplain by calling the Engineering Division at 720-898-7640.  Any property is eligible for flood insurance, regardless if it is in a floodplain.
  • Due to the City’s participation in the Community Rating System (CRS), Arvada residents are eligible for a discount on insurance premiums.
  • Generally, there is a 30-day waiting period from the time a policy is purchased until you are covered, with the following exceptions:  If you have an existing flood insurance policy and the coverage is increased; when flood insurance is required as a condition of a loan; and when an additional amount of flood insurance is required as a result of a flood map revision.
  • For more information on flooding and flood insurance, go to www.floodsmart.gov


The City has a Flood Protection Handbook, which includes floodproofing techniques to help protect your home and procedures to follow before and during floods.  If your home does experience flood damage, there are several procedures and considerations to follow for clean-up and protecting your health during post-flood activities.

The City has worked hard to reduce the threat and damage from flooding by recognizing that floodplains have natural and beneficial functions if they are preserved and maintained properly.  Keeping floodplains open and natural helps reduce flood damage by allowing flood waters to spread over a large area without causing damage to structures or property. 

In some instances, construction in the floodplain cannot be avoided, and the City has a permitting process to address these situations.  All types of construction on a property in a floodplain must have a floodplain development permit, including minor residential improvements such as a deck or garage.  If you have major improvements planned for your property, it may fall under the substantial damage/substantial improvement requirements.  If the improvements you make to your home or commercial building exceed more than 50% of the value of the building, it must be elevated above the base flood elevation as part of the construction.  If you see construction without a City permit posted, contact the Engineering Division at 720-898-7640. 

Homeowners, realtors, lenders, and insurance agents can obtain photocopies of floodplain maps and Elevation Certificates at the Engineering Division.  Additional information can be obtained from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) web site, www.fema.gov/hazard/flood/info.

The City of Arvada, Jefferson County, the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, and the National Weather Service have developed a flood warning plan for Ralston Creek, Leyden Creek, and Van Bibber Creek.  Rain gauges along these creeks give officials the ability to continually monitor storm and flood conditions.  Warnings and other information are disseminated by radio, television, and police and fire departments.

Each spring and after major rainfalls, the City inspects all of Arvada’s creeks. Any accumulated debris is removed to keep the channels clear.  To report debris or other problems in the creeks or blocked inlets or storm sewers, please contact the City Streets Division at 720-898-7720.  Irrigation canals are maintained by the irrigation company.  Dumping and filling near creeks and drainage ways is typically not allowed.  If you see construction or filling without a City permit posted, contact the Engineering Division at 720-898-7640.