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Floodplain Benefits/Functions


Flooding is a natural process that forms and maintains floodplains and coastal zones. Periodic flows of water that overtop the banks of a river and that encroach upon coastal areas are the lifeblood of river and stream corridors, marshes, beaches, and other natural areas. The seasonal variability of flow, incessant wave action, and intermittent extreme events all combine to determine both the physical structure and the biological diversity of flood-prone areas. Finding the delicate balance between human needs and environmental sustainability is a difficult undertaking. Successful, sustainable flood hazard reduction solutions need to be based on the forces at work in floodplains and coastal zones and also on the resources that these flood-prone areas provide.


  • Provide flood storage. Many floodplains temporarily store flood waters and reduce flood heights and velocities for downstream areas.
  • Reduce wave damage. Some vegetated coastal floodplain areas reduce the force of waves and resulting wave and erosion damage to back lying properties and structures.
  • Reduce excessive erosion. Many vegetated floodplain areas help stem erosion by reducing water velocities, maintaining stream channels and stabilizing streambank soil.
  • Provide groundwater discharge. Some floodplains help maintain the base flow of streams and help to reduce ground water levels (which would otherwise flood basements)
  • Produce natural vegetation. Many types of floodplains and wetlands produce natural vegetation not found in upland (dry) areas.
  • Treat (remove) pollution in water body. Wetlands located in lakes, streams, estuaries, depressions, and at other locations may remove pollutants from waters.
  • Provide habitat for fish and shellfish.  Floodplains adjacent to rivers, lakes and the tidal waters can provide food chain support, spawning areas, rearing areas, and shelter for fish. Many estuarine wetlands provide shellfish habitat. 
  • Provide habitat for amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and insect species. Many floodplains and floodplain wetlands provide habitat for a broad range of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds and corridors for migration or movement.
  • Provide habitat for songbirds and other nongame birds. A broad range of floodplains and wetlands provide habitat for nongame birds important for ecotourism. 

Ways in which you can protect waterways, wetlands and floodplains:

  • Do not dump pollutants into storm drains and catch basins.
  • Minimize fertilizer use or use slow-release fertilizers.
  • Help to keep your neighborhood litter-free
  • Do not dump grass clippings, leaves, and other yard waste; utilize the City's regular weekly waste collections.
  • Do not feed ducks or geese.



Last Updated: Wed, 04/24/2019 - 1:32pm