Mitigating Flood Risk: Strategies for Effective Planning and Solutions

Flooding is one of the most common and destructive natural disasters, and it is only getting worse due to climate change. But what can be done to reduce the damage caused by floods?

01 Mar 2023

Most common natural disasters

Over the last 50 years, heavy downpours have increased in frequency and intensity worldwide. They are expected to become more frequent and intense as global temperatures continue to rise. As a result, the probability of flooding in the United States will increase dramatically over the next few decades.

According to the EPA by the year 2100, it is estimated that the average 100-year floodplain will increase by 45 percent, and the annual damages resulting from flooding will rise by $750 million. Localized floods and riverine floods will likely be among the more frequent types of flooding. When rainfall surpasses the capacity of urban drainage systems, localized flooding occurs, while riverine flooding occurs when the flow of water exceeds the capacity of the river channel.

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Forms of flood mitigation

By reducing stormwater runoff and protecting floodplains, green infrastructure can assist in reducing local and riverine flooding. A green infrastructure system is used to prevent flooding from overwhelming pipes and pooling in basements and streets in areas that experience localized flooding because of green infrastructure practices.

Flood mitigation approaches fall into two categories—structural and non-structural. Structural forms of mitigation reduce harm by reconstructing landscapes. They include floodwalls/seawalls, floodgates, levees, and evacuation routes. Non-structural measures reduce damage by removing people and property from risk areas. They include elevated structures, property buyouts, permanent relocation, zoning, subdivision, and building codes. Structural solutions have lost popularity over time as old dams and floodgates have failed.

Flood mitigation planning

The right expertise can help cities, towns, and governments prepare flood mitigation plans that can reduce the risk of flooding and protect the populations in their communities.

This could include things like flood-proofing buildings, creating stormwater management systems, or even relocating vulnerable populations. Floodplain mapping and flood forecasting can help to identify areas at risk of flooding and allow for more targeted mitigation efforts

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Flood mitigation tools

FloodMap is a unique and powerful web application that only RPS can offer. It takes raw data from hydraulic model output files and turns it into an interactive, online map that is easily viewable on any platform.

FloodMap uses powerful Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to support our processes, and our experts use the latest in software to capture, analyze, model, map, and visualize the data. These results come to life through interactive visualizations including velocity particle tracing, flood inundation animations by simulation time step, and swipe block for any hydraulic output values for comparison between different frequency storms and design scenarios.

Flood mitigation solutions and services

RPS engineers, environmental scientists, and infrastructure specialists are designing smarter systems for the future. We do this by combining the latest science, technologies, and our deep technical expertise to develop practical solutions that create shared value for communities and the wider environment. Our services include:

  • Complex hydrologic and hydraulic modeling
  • Watershed planning
  • Flood mitigation design
    • Channel improvements
    • Detention facilities (to reduce flooding or the potential flooding)
  • Stormwater design
  • Around drainage as well as an open channel

Our flood mitigation services are used by a variety of clients including local communities and municipalities, and General Land Offices.

Because water matters

Learn more about how RPS helps to tackle Water Scarcity & Climate Change related impacts by visiting the link below.

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