When we build in the floodplain, we reduce the floodplain's storage capacity thereby 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. A 1994 federal report looked at the important roles they play.