Q: At the 2023 Springs HOA Annual General Member Meeting, a New Business topic addressed the draft, updated floodplain maps that were released in early January 2023 by the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) and FEMA that indicates that a number of Springs at Stone Oak residences and lots could be designated as being in a floodplain.  Was that information accurate?


A: The topic was generated by an article in the San Antonio Express-News on January 13, 2023, reprinted below.  An unofficial analysis by a Springs HOA Board member concluded that the updated floodplain map identifies 15 residences and 4 lots in the what-would-be official floodplain.  Those include all of the residences/lots on Granite Spring and Crystal Spring that have backyards facing Mud Creek, 4 homes/lots on the west side of Pearl Spring (across from the community park), and 3 homes/lots on the southwest side of Calico Spring, indicated on the draft floodplain maps as being included in the “1% Annual Chance Flood Hazard,” or in the floodplain.  There are an additional 5 residences and 3 lots that would be included in the “0.2% Annual Chance Flood Hazard,” reflecting a chance of flooding during the next 30 years (remaining lots on Pearl Spring across from the park that are not in the floodplain and 2 houses on the southeast side of Pearl Spring).

Residences/lots in the floodplain would be required to purchase federal flood insurance if the homeowners have a federally insured mortgage, and all would be required to indicate that their residence/lot is in a FEMA floodplain on the disclosure forms when selling their residence. 

In addition to the information in the news article, below, the draft, updated floodplain maps can be viewed at Draft Floodplain Viewer (arcgis.com) and in the meeting presentation slides used at the AGMM on January 31, 2023, available on the Springs HOA website’s Info tab, Newsletter section, http://www.thespringshoa.com/newsletters .

Upgraded flood map adding properties

A new floodplain map for Bexar County most likely will mean some homeowners who didn’t have to before will have to buy flood insurance.

The San Antonio River Authority is updating the map for the first time in over a decade. Areas with significant changes are just west of Mission Concepción, where the draft map adds several blocks between Malone Avenue and Ceralvo Street, and south of Southwest Research Institute by Texas 151, where there’s an underground storm drain that doesn’t have the capacity to handle flooding.

While the resulting flooding by SwRI is mostly shallow, the city of San Antonio is working on a project in the area to prevent severe flooding, said Erin Cavazos, the ecological engineering manager at the San Antonio River Authority.

Most of these changes are due to new data, including for rainfall, Cavazos said.

In an annual report card, SARA gave Bexar County an F for last year regarding how many flood insurance policies have been purchased — regardless of whether they were for properties in floodplains, said Katye Brought, brand and public communications manager at SARA.

Brought said via text message that “as our report card grade shows our community is under the national average and we’re underinsured.”

Last year, of the 566,316 single- and multifamily residences countywide, 6,441 had flood insurance, said Brian Mast, government affairs manager at SARA.

It’s unclear how many property owners who haven’t been required to buy flood insurance would have to under the draft map. But SARA estimates there would be a net increase of about 2,000 residential buildings on 1,700 properties, Cavazos said.

Property owners with federally backed mortgages must purchase flood insurance if they are on a floodplain. The average cost for flood insurance is just under $800 per year. Some property owners can pay less, such as if the house is elevated and has less risk of flood damage.

Property owners who have paid off their federally backed mortgages do not have to buy flood insurance. Nevertheless, Melissa Bryant, director of technical services at SARA, suggests that they do. About 25 percent of flood insurance claims nationwide come from areas with minimal flood risk, she said.

“Everyone has a risk of flooding unless you’re at the highest point,” Bryant said. “Some places aren’t in the floodplain even, but because roadways can back up during flooding, their homes can be at risk, too.”

SARA manages these maps for Bexar County, San Antonio and 19 other suburban cities within the county.

Typically, SARA makes small changes to the maps, such as those necessitated by construction. This time, however, new rainfall data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — a scientific and regulatory governmental agency — led to a widespread update across the county. The agency’s rainfall estimates had not been updated since the 1960s, meaning they did not include more recent and significant rainstorms from 1998, 2002 and 2013.

Additionally, the Texas Natural Resources Information System’s updated data reflects elevation changes in Bexar County, such as when a new development levels land for a subdivision. The last time the system updated its data was in 2004.

“We’re getting more water and flatter areas,” Cavazos said. “It’s catching up to us now.”

The new floodplain maps are in the draft stage. Residents interested in or concerned about how the update will affect their properties can discuss it with SARA at 12 upcoming public meetings throughout Bexar County.

The new maps, with their expanded floodplains, will not become effective for another 18 to 24 months.

“We’re sharing these maps well in advance of them being formally adopted,” Mast said, “so that the community has a chance to come and speak with us about whatever property they are interested in.”

The next meeting will be 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Live Oak City Hall. The rest can be found on the SARA website under draft floodplain maps and public meetings.

From San Antonio Express-News, January 13, 2023 edition