Natural and Beneficial Functions of Floodplains
Floodplains are a natural and beneficial mechanism to reduce flooding and we should therefore try to maintain them.
- Floodplains offer numerous benefits to society and the natural environment:
- Provide Flood Water Storage:
- Floodplains buffer the impact of flood waters by temporarily storing water and reducing flood velocity thereby helping to mitigate erosion.
- Reduce Excessive Erosion:
- Vegetation in floodplains can mitigate wave erosion damage to structures and property by attenuating the velocity and force of flood waters. Additionally, this vegetation helps maintain stream channels and stabilize streambank soil, reducing wave erosion in these areas.
- Provide Groundwater Discharge:
- Floodplains help maintain the base flow of streams and reduce groundwater levels, decreasing the chances of basement flooding. Additionally, this can improve the quality of water in surrounding basins.
- Treat Water Pollution:
- Floodplains can absorb untreated stormwater and, in doing so, prevent harmful substances the water may contain from entering natural water sources.
- Increase Surrounding Soil Fertility:
- Periodic flooding replenishes essential nutrients in floodplains which they subsequently pass on to surrounding areas, improving their fertility.
- Maintain Diverse and Highly Productive Ecosystems:
- Floodplains are a center of biodiversity, providing habitats for unique vegetation, fish, shellfish, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals, some of which may be endangered.
- Act as a Source of Fish and Game:
- Depending on specific regulations, floodplains can sometimes be used for their natural resources - this includes either fishing or hunting the various animals who live there.
- Act as a Community Space:
- Floodplains are often open and aesthetically pleasing spaces, perfect for recreational activities!
Here are some additional resources regarding the natural function and benefits of floodplains: