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Water Services

Build Responsibly to Prevent Flood Damage

All developments in Special Flood Hazard Areas (not just construction of buildings) require local permits.

  • A grading permit, issued by the Development Services Division of Metro Water Services, is required for all land disturbing activities over 10,000 sq. ft., such as filling or excavating soil, the installation of pipes or digging ditches, and alterations to drainage channels.
  • Building permits, issued by the Codes Administration, are required for all improvements or additions to existing structures as well as for any new structures.
  • Applications for grading and building permits must be made prior to the start of construction.

Within Metro Nashville-Davidson County this permit process is combined into a “One-Stop Shop” to make compliance with local permits and regulations as simple and straightforward as possible. Additional information is available on our Development Services web page.

Metro's Stormwater Management Regulations require that all residential structures built in the floodplain must be constructed with the lowest finished floor elevation located four feet above the 1-percent-annual chance flood elevation. Any fill placed in the floodplain must be offset with an equal volume of cut removed from the floodplain. Development in the floodway is prohibited (with few exceptions). In addition, new development and significant redevelopment sites, and sites needing a Grading Permit are required to preserve water quality buffers along Metro's community waters, which include streams, rivers, springs, lakes, ponds, and wetlands.

A Property Owner/Builder will be required to sign the Development of Structures in the Floodplain form, acknowledging that he/she understands the requirements of the floodplain ordinance and regulations of the Metro Government, and will ensure that completed buildings meet the requirements defined above and in the Stormwater Management Manuals.

We encourage you to contact the Development Services Division of Metro Water Services at 615-862-7225 to inquire about permit requirements or to report any ongoing activity in the floodplain that may not be permitted. Improper development in the floodplain will make flooding worse and must be controlled.

Resources for Floodplain Development

For more information on flood-proofing or retrofitting structures, the following resources are available through the Nashville Public Library and FEMA:

  • Above the Flood: Elevating your Floodprone House, FEMA-347 (2000) – available at the Hermitage Branch Library
  • Answers to Questions About the National Flood Insurance Program, F-084 (2011)
  • Elevated Residential Structures. Reducing Flood Damage Through Building Design: A Guide Manual, FEMA-54 (1984) – available at the Main Library (Government Documents Collection, 3rd Floor)
  • Protecting Manufactured Homes from Floods and Other Hazards, FEMA P-85 (2009)
  • Protecting Building Utilities From Flood Damage, FEMA P-348 (1999)
  • Protecting Floodplain Resources, FEMA 268 (1996)
  • Reducing Damage from Localized Flooding, FEMA 511 (2005) – available on CD at the Main Library (Government Documents Collection, 3rd Floor)