Letters to the Editor

Your views in 200 words or less

FLOODS: Don’t overly rely on levees for flood control

Letter by Matthew Glans, Chicago, Ill. on March 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm with 7 Comments »
March 9, 2012 12:50 pm

Re: “Pierce County flood control inadequate” (TNT, 3-5).

The plans to manage and upgrade the flood plains of Pierce County need to be careful not to rely too heavily on levees. While levees are an important part of any flood-control program, there’s significant evidence the United States already has enough of them.

Quite often, building levees to protect one area can make flooding worse in another. In many places, leaving flood plains in their natural state (or something close to it) can do more to protect inland residents than any amount of levee construction.

For more than a century, the United States has attempted to control water almost entirely with levees and other “structural” means. During that time, the cost of flood damage has more than tripled in inflation-adjusted terms.

The country needs policies that don’t rely on government to protect people from all floods, but instead acknowledge that some areas are likely to flood and that there’s nothing we can or should do about it.

(Glans is Midwest director of the Center on Finance, Insurance and Real Estate at The Heartland Institute.)

Leave a comment Comments → 7
  1. alindasue says:

    Working with nature instead of against it? Wow. Imagine that. Who would’ve thought…

  2. acknowledge that some areas are likely to flood and that there’s nothing we can or should do about it.

    And do not allow any building in those areas likely to flood!!!

  3. alindasue says:


    You know as well as I that that would just make way too much sense. We can’t have that, eh?

  4. Great letter!

  5. The county, via misguided growth policy, probably via influence by greedy developers, set up this expensive scenario by creating urban growth centers on a flood plain. This continues as the City of Sumner continues to expand on the flood plain with its most recent annexation. I agree with the writer, sustainable methods that are more in harmony with nature should be examined before dumping hundreds of millions into levees.

  6. One thing is being overlooked – The EPA. When the rivers bring rock, silt, sand out of the mountains every year and deposit it in the low slow moving areas of a river, the riverbed rises / levees get shorter. When dredging was allowed, everything worked fine. Just think of all the $$$ the Lustrious State of Washington could save on road projects if it mined and processed the aggregates itself. Environmental Kooks have ruined this country and it’s economy. Sure some restriction is needed, but the Blue Heron, White Spotted Owl and the Roy Pocket Gopher are far less important than humans and their needs.

  7. alindasue says:


    The state wouldn’t save much money by “mining” the silt out of the rivers. They would still have to hire contractors to do the dredging and process the aggregate, which would cost just as much – possibly more, since the river silt would be irregular and more difficult to process into a construction ready product.

    Besides, there’s a good reason that “Environmental Kooks” can count a large number of sport fishermen among their numbers. The fish don’t flourish too well when their riverbeds are regularly disrupted.

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0