Letters to the Editor

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

Letter by Matthew Glans, Chicago, Ill. on March 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm | 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.)

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