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May 14 2012

A Few Good Reads (5/14/12): Taming the Red River

This week: An amazing video of an augmented reality sandbox from the folks at UC Davis, a devastating flash flood in Afghanistan, the Army Corps plan to tame the Red River, restoration work on the upper Arkansas River in Colorado, and two articles on residual risk and levees in the Central Valley, California.

   

Flash flood kills 28 in Afghan north (AP)

On Monday, at least 26 people were killed and more than 100 missing after flash floods hit a wedding party and three villages in Sari Pul province.

Afghanistan’s harshest winter in 15 years saw unusually heavy snowfalls, and experts predicted melting snow was likely to cause floods in the mountainous north in the spring.

Army Corps Plan Would Tame Red River, Prevent 100-Year Flood (ENR)

Experts fear the Fargo-Moorhead area faces more catastrophic flooding in the future. According to the Corps, the Red River has exceeded flood stage in 48 of the past 109 years and in every year from 1993 through 2011. “We estimate that a 500-year event would flood nearly the entire city of Fargo and a large portion of the city of Moorhead as well as a major portion of West Fargo and several surrounding communities in the area,” says Aaron Snyder, chief of the project management branch in the Corps’ St. Paul District.

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Colorado: New life for the Arkansas River (Summit County Citizens Voice)

Decades of industrial-scale mining left parts of the Upper Arkansas around Leadville mostly lifeless, but restoration efforts at the California Gulch Superfund Site, along with treatment of contaminated water, should help boost some aquatic life to one of Colorado’s big rivers.

Top Photo

If the levee breaks… (Recordnet.com)

Levees are designed to hold back a 100-year flood – more accurately, a flood with a 1 percent chance of occurring any given year. But over the course of a 30-year mortgage, there’s still a roughly 1 in 4 chance that a larger flood will test those levees.

One more thing on levees (eSanJoaquin.com)

Many other nations don’t view levees as providing absolute safety from all floods. They view levees as providing some safety, but they also see the importance of other strategies — elevating structures, flood insurance, evacuation plans, etc., Larson says.

He asks what the U.S. is doing wrong. “Flood insurance is the only insurance that would make the disaster-struck citizens whole, or close to it, should the levee overtop or fail,” he writes. “Yet, people act as if buying flood insurance is a bigger risk than the chance of flooding. We can use the facts and statistics to show otherwise, but it seems to make no difference to them.”

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