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Flood Mitigation Begins in the Backyard


A new study says “extreme storms,”  with over three inches of rainfall,  in the Midwest have doubled in frequency over the last 50 years. The study ties that frequency to an increased risk of flooding.

The study sponsors say flood mitigation efforts begin at home.

Rainfall can be absorbed by plants and soil anchored by deep root systems. Some simple measures can greatly reduce the amount of run-off that leads to flooding.

Natural Resources Defense Council Policy Analyst Karen Hobbs says a neat, green lawn is terrible at retaining water.

She says, “Homeowners can look at their landscape and replace non-native plants with native perennials which not only help to absorb rain water but also require less irrigation. They require less care than more high-maintenance types of non-native vegetation.”

Homeowners can also disconnect their rain gutters from their sewer system. A combination of a 55-gallon rain barrel and a “rain garden” will greatly reduce the amount of runoff. The barrel's overflow hose can be routed to the garden to absorb the excess rainfall.

Cities can also add more “green infrastructure” such as bioswales. These are drainage ditches with native plants species to route and also absorb rainwater.

The two years with the most extreme storms, 2008 and 1993,  were also years of major flooding