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New flood zones in Palm Beach County could go into effect by year’s end.

Appeals of flood zone designations in preliminary maps released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2014 have been resolved. FEMA plans next month to send resolution letters to the county and various cities that requested changes, FEMA spokesman Danon Lucas said Wednesday.

Barring further appeals, new Flood Insurance Rate Maps for the county and its cities could take effect by December, Lucas said.

Ken Todd, Palm Beach County‘s water resource manager, says he hasn’t seen the revised maps yet. “They’re supposed to show us the maps next month,” Todd said. “I haven’t seen what they changed. Assuming they’ve changed everything we asked for, there won’t be any issues, but we don’t know what they’ve changed.”

The public won’t get a look at the revised maps until at least a month after the appeal resolution letters go out, Lucas said in an email.

“After receiving the letters, the community has 30 days to review and comment on the resolution letter(s),” he said. “Comments received during this phase must be addressed before Letters of Final Determination are sent. If the community does not submit further comment, the (Letters of Final Determination) are issued. The revised maps will then be available to the public.”

Release of the maps will be followed by a six-month “adoption and compliance period” in which communities will vote whether to adopt the maps.

Adoption of the final maps by the county and all of its cities is virtually guaranteed, Todd said, because any entity that does not adopt them won’t be able to use FEMA’s flood zone designations, and its residents won’t be able to obtain coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program.

The federal program was created in 1968 to offer communities affordable rates in exchange for commitments by those communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations.

But rates can differ sharply for homes in low-risk and high-risk flood zones. And recent reforms aimed at helping the program overcome $24 billion in debt subjected primary homes in higher risk zones to annual rate increases of up to 18 percent. Owners of second homes can see increases up to 25 percent.

Flood insurance is required for any home in a high-risk flood zone with a mortgage backed by the federal government (Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac), and by some private banks.

A county analysis found the preliminary maps would have added 62,041 parcels into mandatory flood insurance zones while removing 35,891 parcels. By comparison, Broward County‘s new flood map, finalized in 2014, removed 266,000 parcels form mandatory flood insurance zones and added 31,000.

Appeals by the counties, West Palm Beach and several other cities claimed that flood risks for thousands of properties in the central region of the county were overestimated.

They asked that FEMA instead use land and water elevation estimates from a study completed last spring by the South Florida Water Management District.

Those estimates show that peak water elevations after a particularly severe storm would be lower than FEMA estimated in areas affected by the C-51 canal, which runs through the middle of the county between Lake Okeechobee and the Lake Worth Lagoon.

In a couple of areas, the difference is as much as a foot, Todd said in August. In others, it’s 6 inches. Altogether, residents would save millions of dollars on flood insurance premiums if FEMA granted requests to use the newest elevation study.

A report issued by FEMA in 2014 said the C-51 canal affects West Palm Beach, Cloud Lake, Glen Ridge, Greenacres, Haverhill, Lake Clarke Shores, Lake Worth, Loxahatchee Groves, Palm Springs, Royal Palm Beach, and Wellington, along with unincorporated areas.

Affected properties are not just adjacent to the canal, but throughout the network of secondary canals, tertiary ditches and drainage pipes. Todd said.