About DCR
State Parks
Soil and Water
Dam Safety and

Floodplains are resources, too

Building in a floodplain reduces its storage capacity therein enabling a subsequent flood of equal intensity to crest higher than it would have. There are consequences to development within floodplains. Mark Van Putten, president of the National Wildlife Federation, provides the following perspective on floodplain development:

"The past 60 years provide ample testament to the error of treating rivers, floodplains and floods as forces to be conquered. All too often we've seen rivers straight jacketed into concrete chutes and floodplains transformed into suburbs. Unfortunately, nature's reminders that we are not its master too often produce more flood victims, more damaged property and ever more costly disaster relief and rebuilding obligations assumed by the federal government."

Floodplains are valuable

Significant research has revealed the many beneficial roles natural floodplains play.

They support local economies and quality of life by:

  • Improving property values for areas near natural areas and out of the floodplain due to natural aesthetics and access to recreational opportunities
  • Reducing flood damage and cleanup costs
  • Ensuring faster recovery from flood events
  • Supporting ecosystem services
  • Enabling more attractive and resilient waterfront districts
  • Providing potential access for recreation
  • Having the potential for multiple funding sources for community projects that combine hazard mitigation with open space or historic preservation, recreation, quality of life and other shared goals

Protecting water resources

 This tidal habitat is protected from erosion that can occur during flooding and tropical storm events.
  • Natural flood and erosion control
    • Provide areas of floodwater storage
    • Reduce flood velocities, giving us more time to react to floods
    • Reduce flood peaks
    • Reduce sedimentation
  • Soil and Water
    • Filter nutrients and impurities from runoff
    • Process organic wastes
    • Help moderate temperature fluctuations
    • Potential reduction in dredging costs
    • Lower water treatment costs
  • Groundwater recharge
    • Promote infiltration and recharge of the aquifer
    • Slowly release water to reduce infrequency and duration of low surface flows

Nurturing biological resources

  • Fish and wildlife habitat
    • Provide breeding and feeding grounds
    • Create and enhance waterfowl habitat
    • Protect habitat for rare and endangered species
    • Support industries that rely on the biological resources

The great blue heron is among the biological resources that benefit from good floodplain management.


For more information on the benefits of natural floodplains, visit these websites: