May 03 2013

Floodplains by Design (Video)

The Midwest United States is starting to recover from the flooding that has done a lot of damage over the past 2 to 3 weeks. The Illinois River has finally gotten below flood stage. More spring flooding could be on the way though but at least flood stage forecasts of the Red River through Fargo keep coming down, meaning they might escape a record flood this year.


But the question remains: How do you protect people and infrastructure adequately? How do you balance that protection with ecological needs and benefits? How do you account for climate change and potentially higher intensity storms?

Floodplains by Design is an initiative by The Nature Conservancy looking at these questions as well as trying help the public understand the problem and the potential solutions.

Floodplains – or relatively flat areas that border a river and are prone to flooding – are some of the most valuable places on Earth, both for people and wildlife. Fertile soils deposited by rivers make these areas extremely productive for agriculture. Floodplain forests and marshes are among the richest habitats for wildlife, both in terms of diversity and numbers. Within these areas, species like fish and waterfowl thrive, benefiting important commercial and recreational industries, too. (Floodplains provide lots of benefits to people and nature.)

The goal of Floodplains by Design is to ensure floodplains are used and managed in ways that enable them to provide these valuable services, while maintaining or even improving flood protection.

The video below walks through some basic floodplain features in animated form and what our trend in combatting floods has been. It then walks through what they mean by “Floodplains by Design” and what mutual beneficial balance looks like. It’s a great animated video that is very well done and well worth your time to watch.


One of the major problems with promoting measures such as setback levees, making room for the river, utilizing bypasses and floodways, and other means, is that public education on these topics is little to none. We need more videos out there like this!

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