Leaving Flood-Prone Area Free of Development Would Save Billions, Study Says

It makes more fiscal sense to buy flood-prone land and conserve it than to cover the costs of the damages to developments, according to researchers from the University of Bristol and other institutions.

December 15, 2019, 5:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Mississippi River Missouri

Dan Brekke / Flickr

"Keeping vacant, flood-prone lands free of development could save taxpayers billions," writes Eli Chen, sharing the findings of new research published recently in the journal Nature Sustainability.

The study "found that every $1 spent acquiring undeveloped properties in the 100-year floodplain — which have a 1% chance of flooding in any given year — returns $5 that would be spent on emergency services, flood insurance claims and other flood damage costs if those properties became developed."

"As the number of people living in flood-prone regions like St. Louis is increasing, local governments should consider protecting undeveloped floodplain properties instead of building on them, said Barbara Charry, the floodplain and nature-based solutions strategy manager for the Nature Conservancy’s Missouri chapter."

To find solutions to the challenges of making that vision a reality, the Nature Conservancy is working with the Army Corps of Engineers "to develop a plan to improve floodplain management for the eight municipalities along the lower Meramec River," reports Chen.

Historic floods inundated the Mississippi River watershed during last year's rainy season. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019 in St. Louis Public Radio

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