Article Title

The Floodplain Fiasco

Document Type

Student Article


Flooding has long been a source of hardship for the people who work and live near bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, and streams. The United States has not been an exception. Only in recent decades has the United States taken proactive steps in an effort to mitigate the damage associated with flooding. These proactive measures predict the areas of the United States that flood, and require that people who live within those areas to purchase flood insurance. These predictions are in the form of a nationwide system of maps. Until recently, flood insurance was offered to affected property owners at a reduced rate. The nationwide system of maps indicate the potential limits of flooding however these maps are plagued by systematic errors, which reduce their accuracy to the point where the flooding limits indicated on the maps are almost, if not completely, meaningless. These errors are caused by the use of stormwater runoff rates that are based on existing conditions, the use of computer technology that cannot accurately model the effects of structures impeding the flow of stormwater, and the use of survey equipment that does not accurately model the terrain that forms the basis of these limits of inundation. For these reasons, the proposition of this Article is that the way flood insurance is managed should be changed. This Article also proposes several possible solutions to the problem of flood inundation mapping.

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