Ways to Reduce Flood Risk

The good news is that you can take some steps to reduce flood risk. There are several ways to do this, from non-structural measures like building adjustments to creating wetlands and levees to reducing floodplains. While these efforts may not prevent flooding completely, they will reduce damage and costs. Read on for some helpful tips. You may even be able to save some money by doing one or all of these measures!

Non-structural measures

While structural measures are often the most expensive and time-consuming, non-structural measures can often be implemented by local communities without much difficulty. These measures typically reduce flood risk by as much as 50%. They are designed to prevent or reduce the consequences of a disaster. Non-structural measures include building codes, public awareness, and research and assessment. In addition to these, non-structural measures can also mitigate natural hazards.

In order to achieve these goals, flood-risk reduction must be considered within a wider context of environmental and social development. Several states have constitutional provisions requiring that local governments adopt policies that incorporate environmental protection and sustainable development. Flood-risk reduction measures must therefore take these principles into consideration when they are developed. The Netherlands’s Constitution specifically mentions “protection and improvement of the environment,” a reference to the principle of sustainable development.

To estimate flood damages and losses, Kreibich and Thieken developed a model that took into account both economic and environmental factors. They used a modified 30 year flood to represent the impacts of a 300-year flood and took into account private precautionary measures, such as building restrictions, oil contamination, and a decrease in urbanisation. This model, FLEMO AT, was then adapted to fit the circumstances of Austria.

The United States has long been a world leader in flood-risk reduction. The US Flood Control Act, in fact, strengthened the structural defenses of countries around the world. But while levees and dams create the illusion of perfect safety, residents in those areas are often unaware of the risk. The US Flood Control Act was created to address this problem. And the US Flood Control Act has made this task easier for local governments.

Flood risk reduction is a long-term process, requiring a combination of structural and non-structural measures. The effectiveness of a non-structural flood risk management plan depends on its effectiveness, and it is important to note that structural measures can never completely eliminate the threat of flooding. Because they only improve flood conveyance, the physical presence of structural measures may create a false sense of security and encourage inappropriate land use in protected areas.

Adjustments to buildings

Floodplain management is a comprehensive program that addresses a community’s needs in terms of flood damage prevention, preparedness, and regulation. Floodproofing, on the other hand, is the process of modifying buildings to reduce the risk of flooding. The process includes both structural and nonstructural modifications. The goal of floodproofing is to lower the risk of damage to property and assets during flooding. The elevation of a building’s foundation walls, the above-grade walls that support the weight of the structure, is one of the primary components that is often considered a flood-risk factor.

Restoration of wetlands

The ecological restoration of wetlands has many benefits. Not only will it reduce flood risks, but it can also encourage passive and active recreation. Restoration of wetlands can also tie into the local transportation system. Wetlands improve water quality by naturally filtering pollutants and providing habitat for wildlife. And of course, the benefits of restoration do not stop there. You can read about the benefits of wetlands in the following paragraphs. Here are some examples.

Flooding occurs when water runs over land during storms and snowmelt events. Thankfully, most wetlands are capable of temporarily storing floodwaters. These areas can even act as “natural sponges,” absorbing large volumes of water and reducing downstream flooding and erosion. The return of wetlands would benefit the entire world. By stabilising the climate, the amount of flooding would decrease. And because wetlands absorb so much water, they also improve water quality and reduce erosion.

While restoration of wetlands reduces flood risk, there is little scientific evidence that shows whether this would reduce the overall risks. Most studies on risk reduction services of wetlands use indicator-based and parametric models, and they are usually combined with other risk-reduction measures. However, these studies do not consider the effect of wetlands on property damages. Until these studies are completed, they are only useful as a basis for policymaking.


While levees are a great way to protect homes and property from flooding, they cannot completely prevent floods. Even properly maintained levees can fail to keep water out during larger rainfall events. Because of interior drainage problems, the levees may also fail to prevent floodwaters from flooding behind them. A recent flood in Coffeyville, KS, showed this. After the Verdigris River reached a record high of 30 feet, the city’s accredited levee failed to prevent flooding.

While levees have been called essential for protecting communities, their failure to protect entire communities has a far greater impact. Some levees fail to protect a particular area from flooding, while others create a false sense of security. Incentives for land development on flood-prone areas, like farmlands, can actually lead to worse flooding. For example, levees have led to the loss of 85-90% of the wetlands that once covered the Upper Mississippi River. Wetland provides natural storage for flood water. A study from Illinois concluded that a loss of one percent of wetland cover could increase the total volume of floodwater.

The US Army Corps of Engineers, whose mission is to protect communities from flooding, dedicated much of its resources and investment to building and enlarging levees. Historically, they closed off natural river outlets and built levees as close as possible to the rivers. In the past, the levees have only protected communities from floodwaters 0.2 percent of the time. The United States Army Corps of Engineers has never exceeded the capacity of these levees, despite the fact that floodwaters surpassed their capacity in 1913.

The erosion of levees is a result of a long-term process of water flow. During a flood, waves and strong river currents erode levees. In addition, objects that are carried by floodwaters may collide with them, causing a breach. Moreover, animals and vegetation can eat through levees and create a zone of weakness. Levees that breach are dangerous in these situations.

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