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Archive for the ‘flood risk’ Category

I’ve recently come across some papers that Jeffrey Opperman has published by himself or as lead author. It appears as though he attended UC Davis and if nothing else, he really knows how to write some wonderful opening sentences. Here are two that not only caught my eye, but also resonated immediately with me:

“Flooding is the most damaging natural disaster worldwide, and the flood-vulnernable population is expected to grow in the coming decades. Flood risks will likely increase because of both climate change and shifting land uses, such as filling of wetlands and expansion of impervious surfaces, that lead to more rapid precipitation runoff into rivers.”(1)

“Floodplains are among the most biologically productive and diverse ecosystems on Earth and they provide significant benefits to society such as attenuation of of floodwaters, groundwater recharge filtration of nutrients and sediments, carbon sequestration, fisheries productivity and recreation. However, floodplains are also among the most converted and threatened ecosystems.”(2)

This is short, concise and compelling writing in my opinion. These papers, along with many others, make the case for restoring floodplains so that rivers have lateral connectivity to these vital and important habitats.  Kiedrzyńska et. al. (2015) mentions several benefits of  functional floodplains including, but not limited to:

  • increased water retention
  • reduced flood pulses & reduced outflow velocity
  • improved water quality
  • groundwater recharge
  • side habitat for fish
  • fine grain sediment deposition
  • biodiversity maintenance

Functional floodplains should be considered part and parcel with an overall resilience strategy.  Floodplains, by definition, are supposed to be flooded.  Direct beneficiaries of restored floodplains include insurance agencies that sell flood policies to policy owners downstream of the  floodplain restoration project.  Other beneficiaries could include water suppliers due to increased baseflows and preservation of water quality.  Groundwater recharge and slow release back to the main channel, in some cases, could increase baseflows which in turn could provide some additional revenue to a hydropower project downstream of the restored floodplain.

With these beneficiaries in mind, the next part in this series will discuss the development of a flood resilience bond.

  1. Kiedrzyńska, Edyta, Kiedrzyński, Marcin, Zalewski, Maciej. 2015. Sustainable floodplain management for flood prevention and water quality improvement.  Natural Hazards, 76, pp 955-977.
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11069-014-1529-1
  2. Opperman, Jeffrey, Gerald Galloway, Joseph Fargione, Jeffrey Mount, Brian Richter, Siliva Secchi. 2009. Sustainable Floodplains Through Large-Scale Reconnection to Rivers. Science Vol 326, pp 1487-1488.
    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/326/5959/1487
  3. Opperman, Jeffrey. 2012. A Conceptual Model for Floodplains in the Sacramento-San Juaquin Delta. San Francisco Estuary & Watershed Science. Vol 10:3 pp 1-28
    https://escholarship.org/uc/item/2kj52593

 

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