Thursday, August 31, 2006

Natural Flood Protection Report

This new report from the national organization, American Rivers, promoting natural flood protection over structural protection like dams and levees, is very informative, providing insight into a way of thinking favored by many

The case studies of natural flood protection they present are good, but designed for either small towns with the capability to move everyone somewhere else, or small rivers or creeks that are relatively easy to work with; and the standard level of flood protection they have reached is only 200 year level, far below the gold standard of 500 year level.

An excerpt.

New Katrina Report: Unnatural Disasters, Natural Solutions.
Thursday, August 24, 2006 By: Brad DeVries

Unnatural Disasters, Natural Solutions: Lessons from the Flooding of New Orleans
New Report Details Steps For Avoiding Future Unnatural Flood Disasters
Contact: Brad DeVries 202-243-7023

WASHINGTON American Rivers today released a detailed review of the causes of the post-Hurricane Katrina flooding of New Orleans and provided recommendations for changing the nation’s failed approach to reducing flood damage to communities.

The report recommends key changes in the nation’s approach to flood protection that will address the root causes of the flooding of New Orleans and protect communities nationwide:
modernizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency with primary responsibility for the nation’s flood protection; adopting natural flood protection as the first line of defense against flooding; and abandoning the nation’s over-reliance on structural protections that have repeatedly failed to protect communities in the past.

The report includes eight case studies of communities that chose natural flood protection to reduce the danger to people and property. These case studies demonstrate that restoring rivers, floodplains, and wetlands can yield tremendous benefits in reducing and preventing damage to communities from flooding.

“The bottom line is that natural flood protection saves lives. Communities are safer when they work with rivers instead of trying to straitjacket them in ways that are certain to fail,” said Andrew Fahlund, vice president for conservation policy at American Rivers. “A functioning river system is a community’s ally, not its enemy.”

Unnatural Disasters, Natural Solutions includes detailed information on the role of the Corps of Engineers in the flooding of New Orleans, discussing the Corps’ tragically flawed levee design, the intentional and unintentional destruction of New Orleans’ natural flood protection Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, and engineering fiascos like the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet shipping channel that amplified Katrina’s storm surge. The report discusses the Corps’ long history of project planning problems, and the efforts led by Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and John McCain (R-AZ) to reform the agency.

“The Corps of Engineers played a huge role in the flooding of New Orleans” said Melissa Samet, senior director of water resources at American Rivers. “The Corps was supposed to protect New Orleans, but instead planned projects that laid the foundation for the city’s ruin. Congress must take charge of this agency and change the way it does business” Samet said.

August 2006 Report (PDF)
Unnatural Disasters, Natural Solutions:
Lessons from the Flooding of New Orleans (2mb)