State regulations protect those natural areas that help to reduce the risks associated with flooding. When portions of floodplains are preserved in (or restored to) their natural state, they provide many benefits to both human and natural systems.
These benefits range from providing aesthetic pleasure to reducing the number and severity of floods, helping handle stormwater runoff and minimizing non-point water pollution. For example, by allowing floodwater to slow down, sediments settle out, thus maintaining water quality. The natural vegetation filters out impurities and uses excess nutrients.
Based on the FEMA Flood Zone Maps, the City has approximately 18,000 acres in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA). Of that area over 12,000 acres are preserved in as a Natural and Beneficial Area (the Water Catchment Area) and nearly 200 acres of SFHA in open space (parks).