Tag Archives: flooding

Midwest Flooding On the Rise

Flood SignThe journal Nature Climate Change points out that those who live in the U.S. Midwest are no strangers to devastating floods. Last summer, according to the journal, the region was “inundated with two month’s worth of rainfall in just one week, submerging farms and killing crops. Torrential downpours following a drought in Illinois in 2013 led to flooding that cost $1 billion.

The journal reports that Midwest flooding in 2008 caused “24 deaths and $15 billion in losses. Across the country, the United States has suffered from more than $260 billion in flood-related damages between 1980 and 2013 — it’s the most common natural disaster experienced by Americans, according to FEMA.”   The important message according to the research is to expect more of that in a climate-changed world.

>Read More via http://grist.org/climate-energy/flooding-is-on-the-rise-in-the-midwest-and-were-totally-unprepared/

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Flood Alleviation – Unpaid Engineers to Restore Floodplains

Following major floods in January 2014 Marina Pacheco, the chief executive of the UK Mammal Society, recommended that the UK Government promote beaver reintroductions as a means of reducing flood risk in the future.

“Restoring the beaver to Britain’s rivers would bring huge benefits in terms of flood alleviation. These unpaid river engineers would quickly re-establish more natural systems that retain water behind multiple small dams across tributaries and side-streams. As a consequence the severity of flooding further downstream would be greatly reduced, at no cost to the taxpayer,” wrote Pacheco.

This regulation in river flow may also help reduce flooding and bankside erosion downstream according to the biofresh blog http://biofreshblog.com/2014/04/18/beavers-ecological-stress-and-river-restoration/

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Free “State of Green Business” Report Lists Water Risk as a Top Trend

state of green biz report cover“State of Green Business” is Greenbiz.com’s seventh annual assessment of corporate sustainability trends and metrics. In the free report (download here), Greenbiz identifies the 10 Top Sustainable Business Trends of 2014.

Toppping the list in the 108-page document is “Collaboration Becomes an Accelerator.” Rather than reinventing the wheel on every issue, collaboration can address systemic challenges more easily and quickly. At No. 2 is “Chemical Transparency” and at No. 3 is “Water Rises as a Risk Factor.”

“Companies, communities and countries are coming to recognize that water is increasingly being paired with the words “crisis” or “risk,” states the report. Climactic shifts causing more common storms, floods, and drought, along with growth of consumption, are driving the rise in risk.

Read more: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2014/01/21/state-green-business-2014

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“Emergency Response” for Streams and Rivers Becoming More Common

A scientifically-based assessment can aid quick, sound decision-making in an emergency.

A scientifically-based assessment can aid quick, sound decision-making in an emergency.

With unpredictable weather patterns becoming the new normal, it may be time to take a fresh look your flood risk.  At Trout Headwaters we are definitely seeing a distinct increase in the number of emergency calls we receive.  When a structure or critical resource is under threat of flooding time is of the essence.

Streams, rivers and wetlands do flood, most often during spring runoff or summer rain storms. An emerging pattern in the West of drought, followed by fire, followed by rain, can wreak havoc on the stability of streambanks. High spring runoff or heavy rain events can very quickly turn a peaceful stream into a raging torrent eating away at unstable banks.

Lush streamside vegetation and a healthy stream hydrology mean resilient streambanks, but if you do find yourself in an emergency situation, our firm’s expert team of engineers, hydrologists and biologists can  deploy quickly to provide an assessment of the damage and potential threat to your property.  Our patented RiverWorks Rapid Assessment System allows us to complete a thorough stream or river assessment quickly, even turning around a report and suggested remedies within 24 – 48 hours.

THI’s “green” approaches to streambank stabilization not only stave off further damage, but also strengthen over time as banks recover the type of deep-rooted, woody vegetation that means stability long term, along with added habitat values for fish and wildlife.

For more information or to discuss your concerns, contact THI today.

You may also like: For Builders, Architects, and Homeowners – Building Near a River or Stream?

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Father of Floodplain Management Said, “Build Away from Floodplains”

When rivers flood severely enough that there is loss of life, it’s not too long before emergency meetings are held to discuss new flood control measures.  Often these measures include armoring riverbanks.  Although a tragedy, the recent floods near Boulder, Colo. could have been worse.

Some of Boulder’s protection could be attributed to Gilbert White, the late University of Colorado professor known as the “father of flood plain management,” who believed that people should move structures out of flood-prone areas instead of relying on dams and levees.  White advocated  for adaptation to, or accommodation of, flood hazards rather than the “structural” solutions (dams, levees, and floodwalls, for example) that dominated policy in the early 20th century.

Dams, levees and floodwalls, developed by engineers, are designed to modify flooding hazards so that humans are protected and can continue to live in areas that are periodically subject to flooding (i.e. floodplains). White’s thought governing bodies (local, regional, or national) should restrict the use of floodplains. In his influential dissertation entitled “Human adjustment to floods,” published in 1945 by the University of Chicago Department of Geography, White argued that an over-reliance on structural works in the United States had actually increased damage by flooding, rather than decreasing them, and famously said, “Floods are an act of God, but flood losses are largely an act of man.”

Despite his many honors and accolades, including the National Medal of Science from the National Science Foundation (2000), during White’s lifetime, public confidence in structural works significantly increased building in floodplains.

You may also like: Know Your Risk: Floodwaters Can Transform Small Streams into Raging Rivers

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-flood-risks-20130920,0,7805513.story

Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilbert_F._White

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Head for the Hills! Will Climate Change Put You Underwater?

Climate scientists predict that sea levels will rise by three feet — and could rise by as much as five feet — by the year 2100. What does this mean for some of the world’s coastal cities, or your favorite beach?  The map below allows you to explore the regions of the Earth that are most vulnerable to sea level rise.

The culprit is thought to be the unfettered burning of fossil fuels. See the areas on the map in red?  They could be under water by the end of this century if we don’t change our fossil fuel consumption habits.

Carbon absorption is critical to controlling carbon in the atmosphere. It turns out that created and restored wetlands are unexpectedly efficient for storing carbon.

Researchers and land managers need to consider restored and manmade wetlands as they look for places to store, or “sequester,” carbon long-term.

You may also like: Created and Restored Wetlands Are Unexpectedly Efficient for Storing Carbon

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The Science Behind Colorado’s Catastrophic Floods

colorado-national guard

Photo credit: Colorado National Guard.

Just a few months ago, Boulder, Colorado was in the grip of yet another drought, reports TIME magazine online, and the state also experienced its worst wildfire on record earlier this year. But after days of heavy rainfall that the National Weather Service called “biblical,” drought and fire are the last things that Boulder and the rest of the northern Front Range of Colorado has to worry about. The more lasting effects will be caused by the catastrophic flood events that have ravaged portions of the state over the last few weeks.

With weather extremes becoming more common, it is more important than ever to be sure we encourage resilient landscapes. Healthy, functioning floodplains and wetlands can protect freshwater resources, and infrastructure from the extremes of drought and flood.

Andrew Freedman of Climate Central described the climate factors contributing to the Colorado floods: “An increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events is expected to take place even though annual precipitation amounts are projected to decrease in the Southwest…That may translate into more frequent, sharp swings between drought and flood, as has recently been the case.”

Many experts agree that climate-change-related severe weather events all around the country are here to stay.  Fires due to drought will, in turn, exacerbate flooding due to fire-exposed soils, and fire-damaged vegetation. Protection and restoration of fire-damaged areas, floodplains, and wetlands can help protect both life and property.

Read more: http://science.time.com/2013/09/17/the-science-behind-colorados-thousand-year-flood/#ixzz2fS83Pfy9

You may also like: Wildfire and Water: Post-Fire Assessments Provide Quick Answers, and Know Your Risk: Floodwaters Can Transform Small Streams into Raging Rivers

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Dammed If You Do…Green River Dam Spawns Heated Debate

Wiley-Russell Dam photo courtesy of Museum of Our Industrial Heritage.

Wiley-Russell Dam photo courtesy of Museum of Our Industrial Heritage.

As reported by the Greenfield, Mass. Reporter, a small, 77-year-old timber crib dam that spans the Green River at Meridian Street is once again attracting a lot of attention. There are differing opinions about what should happen with the dam, and after five years of study and planning nothing has been done, yet.  It’s the kind of quagmire that happens oftentimes when shared resources are at stake.

A coalition of river stewards, supported by the Corps of Engineers, are set to remove the Wiley & Russell Dam at Meridian Street, which was built in 1936, and restore the river closer to what they say will be the natural-flowing river it was more than 200 years ago. That could happen as early as next summer. Another dam was originally slated for removal, but that project has been scrapped for now.

At the same time, local historians have kicked up a fight to save the dam by starting a signature campaign, because they believe the dam would provide great educational opportunities to residents, tourists and area students.

In the Reporter, Eric Twarog, the town’s director of planning and development, said after five years of study and preliminary work, it has been determined that the dam should come out. He said the town is discussing mitigation, which is required by the state, so historians could save a piece of the dam for display somewhere.  Opponents want to restore the dam and have it listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Read more: http://www.recorder.com/home/8089797-95/historians-river-stewards-take-different-positions-on-dam

Read 2010 plan update:  http://www.ctriver.org/documents/GreenRiverHandout.pdf

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How a City Can Be More Like a Forest

from Greenbiz.com

green infrastructureOne defining characteristic of a city is that it is full of hard surfaces. Streets, sidewalks, buildings and bridges shed water when it rains. All that water has to go somewhere, and it usually gets there fast. So for a city to function more like a forest or a field, step one is to slow down the water.

At THI our main business is slowing down the water with a process we call Experience EcoBlu.  Healthy floodplains with lush, streamside vegetation provides ecological services like water filtration, absorption, and storage.  When floodplains are destroyed, the inevitable result is lower water quality, more flooding, and more damage to life, limb and property.  We answer many calls from landowners concerned about erosion and flooding.

The issue is becoming more urgent. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a leading New York–based policy, science and advocacy organization, over the past 50 years the number of days with heavy precipitation events has increased more than 50 percent. If this trend continues, as climate models suggest it will, flash floods will pose an ever greater risk both to people and to the infrastructure built over decades — even centuries, in some places — to handle stormwater. On the flip side, droughts elsewhere will put drinking water supplies under greater stress and increase conflicts among agricultural, industrial and residential water users.

The role of water is so important to green infrastructure that some experts speak of blue-green or turquoise infrastructure. The reason is clear: in natural conditions, rocks, soil, plants and trees keep water where it falls, or slow water down on its way into wetlands, streams and rivers. As a result, only 10 percent of rain becomes runoff, half gets absorbed and the rest goes back into the air as water vapor. The páramo in Ecuador is a great example; a giant sponge that soaks up water where it falls. When the ground cannot absorb rain — whether because cattle have pounded it solid or because people have built office towers, apartment complexes, roads and parking lots on it — nearly all the rain washes away, carrying pollution with it, and with increasing frequency overrunning stormwater systems.

Read more: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2013/05/13/how-city-can-be-more-forest


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The “Johnny Willowseed” Approach to Stream Restoration Is Both Practical and Low Cost

Johnny Willowseed approach to restorationJust as Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) made practical and lasting contributions to apple production in the U.S., our firm strives to make practical and lasting contributions to stream and river restoration, often through plantings of willow and other native riparian species.

In 1995, Trout Headwaters, Inc (THI) was founded to provide service to private, non-profit, and government clients.  At a time when fewer than a handful of entities across the U.S. were providing stream, river or wetland restoration services, the company quickly became a recognized leader in “soft” biostabilization and riparian restoration strategies.

For many years the company has teamed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others to develop and refine these environmentally superior techniques for stream stabilization and restoration.  A state regulator, reviewing one of THI’s early landmark projects remarked that we had used a “Johnny Willowseed” approach.  Working WITH nature has indeed been a precept of the firm since its founding and one that we’re immensely proud to continue through today.

Proven, Practical Innovation  

In 2001, THI began developing and testing proprietary technologies for river, stream and wetland inventory, assessment, design, and monitoring.  Ultimately, several of these processes were commercialized by sister company THI RiverWorks.  U.S. Patents for restoration methods, processes, and computer software were received beginning in 2006.

So while Trout Headwaters continues to offer the same services it did when first founded, the company has constantly changed and improved its process and its products.  This commitment to improving quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness has resulted in now more than 450 successful projects all across the U.S.  The company’s work has been featured in diverse publications including Land & Water, Erosion Control, Landscape Architect, Outdoor Life, and many others.

Customer Focus

Expect however our hallmark to remain always unchanged: A dedication to serving the nation’s most discriminating clients by delivering cost-effective and ecologically beneficial restoration products and services.

At THI our guiding principle is always to stay customer-focused. Each one of our clients has helped us achieve what we believe to be the lead position in the aquatic restoration industry.   But why take our word for it, listen to a sample of what our clients are saying:

“We have received award-winning attention for our sustainable, green design and development efforts, much of which is directly attributable to THI.” – Cielo Falls (NC)

“You and your team were nothing short of spectacular! Great communication on all projects and their status, along with an attitude that reflects your sincere care and passion for your profession consistently exceeded my expectations.” – 3 Peaks Ranch (MT)

“As you know I’ve worked with other firms on river restoration projects, prior to engaging THI.  As such, I have come to appreciate the quality of your firm’s work in an industry where many firms offer dramatic results but fail to deliver.”- River Ranch Restoration LLC (CO)

“Simply put, Trout Headwaters, Inc. is the transition captain, adding value by enhancing natural attributes of these ecologically important ranches.”- Live Water Properties (WY)

To learn more or contact us – Visit www.troutheadwaters.com

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