Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Making Room for the Rivers

When one thinks of a nation that has been successful in holding back the encroachment of the oceans, the Netherlands, perched precariously on the edge of the North Sea inevitably come to mind. So, when the Dutch decide that after hundreds of years of trying to wall the Sea out, that sea level rise associated with global climate change is going to make them shift strategies, it makes sense for the rest of the world to take heed.

Building bigger floodgates and higher levees is no longer an option. Instead, the Dutch are "embracing the water", letting the water back onto landscape, and allowing rivers, swollen with rainfall to re-connect with their floodplains. Many of these low areas have been farmed in the past, often because they have been laden with the nutrient-rich sediments deposited by the rivers during storms. Now, however, the Dutch government is paying farmers for their properties, so the natural hydrology can be restored.

Similar efforts are quietly taking place in the US, from the Missouri River system to Napa Valley and Texas.

As has been said here before, during the current re-consideration of the General Development Plan, it is incumbent upon the County Executive and planning staff to take this issue under serious consideration, not only for Bay and river fronting properties, but for those along streams and creeks higher in the landscape that, under healthy conditions, can arrest flooding hazards downstream.

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