Floodplains are a significant component of a community’s green infrastructure network. Flooding has shaped topography and development patterns since the earliest civilizations. Though flooding is an inherent natural process, the threat to life and property can be devastating when development is located within floodplains or drainage areas. Identifying the locations of floodprone areas within a community allows for better planning, which can enhance the positive effects and mitigate the negative effects of flooding.
In planning a green infrastructure network, floodplains contribute to a variety of community goals including protection of natural drainage areas, water quality, groundwater supply, and natural habitat. Beyond environmental benefits, floodplains can be used for the development of paths, trails, and greenways for recreational purposes, and preventing development within flood prone areas limits threats to life and property as well as costly mitigation measures.
The federal government has taken the lead on mapping areas subject to inundation by flooding. Many communities utilize federal Flood Insurance Rate Maps (F.I.R.M. maps) to avoid building within flood prone areas, and local governments must use staff resources to prevent the issuance of permits for building within these areas.
The benefits of floodplain protection include protection of environmental quality, identifying areas for recreational opportunities and mitigating threats to personal safety and damage to property.
Limitation on development within floodplains can raise the ire of individuals or groups that advocate for property rights. Often overlooked by such groups are the downstream impacts floodplain development can cause. Because flood prone areas constantly shift with changes in topography and upstream development, maps can become outdated quickly in areas facing rapid increases in growth and development.
The federal government has taken the lead on mapping, but the implementation of flood regulations must be done by local governments. Citizens and property owners should also be mindful of flood prone areas as they may affect insurance rates on private property and damage to nearby buildings.
The costs of conserving floodplain can vary according to whether land is acquired through fee simple purchase, condemnation or donation by the landowner.
Flood management regulations can be administered through established government agencies that manage and regulate permitting and development activities. However, costs for reparations to property and implementation of mitigation measures as a result of flood damage can be significant.
The system of land, natural resources, and natural habitats that collectively comprise a community's underlying ecosystem. Green Infrastructure is present in every city, although its size, diversity, and strength vary greatly. Importantly, green infrastructure can be used to help offset negative environmental impacts, for example stormwater runoff and urban heat island effect.