Concurrent Session: Wetlands and water management
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM Wed
Title: Thinking outside the box culvert: Nature-based sustainable flood management
Abstract: National flood policy has two objectives: flood loss reduction and protection of the natural and beneficial functions of our "natural" floodplains. While considerable effort has been applied to the first objective, the second objective has had only minor consideration by our floodplain managers. Flood losses in the United States are expected to exceed $20 billion annually. Current economic assessments of mitigation actions to reduce flood damages consider a narrow range of costs and benefits. This narrow scope precludes nature-based flood mitigation projects that counter rising flood damages and are more resilient. For too long, floodplain management has been focused on mitigating flood damages with little consideration of the cultural, economic, or environmental effects and benefits of a selected "flood control" strategy. Impacts from structural flood control have included unforeseen economic and environmental consequences. Large areas of floodplains are wetlands, and structural projects often remove the connection to these floodplains and the associated wetlands. I will discuss national trends in flood management and highlight communities that are changing this dynamic and using more nature-based and green infrastructure that understand the floodplain connection. I will focus on Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) and Green Infrastructure (GI) as alternatives for reducing flood risk. While structural "grey" flood management infrastructure is still important in urban areas to reduce flood risks for valuable economic resources and public infrastructure, we should include NBS and GI to increase returns on cultural and environmental benefits.
Bio: David Fowler spent 36 years with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District working to mitigate residential and commercial structures at risk of flooding. He worked on the design and construction of eight major flood projects, including restoration and rehabilitation of more than 15 miles of channelized urban streams. He is currently working for ASFPM.