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A Water Agenda for Governor Brown - Improving Floodplain Management

Barry Nelson

Posted December 10, 2010

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Many California communities are currently at significant risk of flooding, a risk that is anticipated to increase as a result of global warming.  In addition, the State of California is currently at risk for billions of dollars of potential flood liability.  State-wide flood damages on an average annual basis are greater than wildfires and earthquakes combined.  The restoration of floodplains can help address these problems and produce multiple benefits, including:

  • Protecting communities currently at risk of flooding
  • Reducing state flood liability
  • Providing essential wildlife and fisheries habitat
  • Recharging over drafted groundwater basins and improving water supplies
  • Improving water supply reliability by reducing flood risks in the Delta
A Water Agenda for Governor Brown

Floodplain management is a key to restoring the state’s salmon fishery and recovering listed salmon species.  In addition, by reducing flood risks to Delta communities and the water exported from the Delta, an increased emphasis on floodplain restoration could play a major role in crafting a successful and broadly-supported Delta Plan.  Despite the potential of this tool, progress in recent years has been painfully slow.

Delta and Central Valley Planning:  Direct the agencies preparing the Delta Plan and the Central Valley Flood Management Plan to maximize floodable floodplain area in order to help achieve the state’s salmon doubling goal and improve public safety. 

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PhilipDec 19 2010 12:50 PM

I am always amused at how many of the landowners objecting to "junk science" (and there is plenty of junk out there) howl when the USGS points out obvious flood plain boundaries. Yeah, someone could argue about a 100 or 1,000 year frequency, but the evidence is recent and clear. Allowing construction of death-traps like the Natomas region in Sacramento should be a crime.
There is one environmental drawback to restoration of wetland floodplains, however: mosquitoes. West Nile and malaria are really, really bad for you. Even worse than eating non-organic produce. Insects can be managed, but as with everything, there is a cost.

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