Monday, February 1, 2010

Wetlands loss tied to flooding, scientists say

Leah Hoenen in the Cape Gazette (Delaware): Sussex County is losing wetlands, and damage to wetlands is, in part, responsible for devastating flooding across the county. Environmental officials say remaining wetlands must be protected and rehabilitated. The Delaware Wetlands Conference opened to stark news that standing water inundates the county as wetlands disappear, and predictions of more of the same.

Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary Collin O’Mara said devastation from recent flooding is a wake-up call. “This will be the new normal with climate change,” he said. Building in wetlands areas, as well as wetlands loss, has contributed to area flooding, he said. “We have people’s attention now because people are looking for solutions. There are still 2 feet of standing water in some parts of our state and people are looking for help,” he said. “We’ve got to stop the bleeding and protect what we have left,” he said at the Wednesday, Jan. 20 conference at Dover’s Sheraton Hotel..

… Adding more ditches or drainage pipes will not solve Sussex County’s problems, he said, calling such a fix untenable. O’Mara called Sussex flooding terrifying and said it’s heartbreaking to see what people are going through. “The homes shouldn’t have been built there, but they’re there now, so what can we do to help these people?” O’Mara asked.

O’Mara called for watershed-wide solutions. “We can run around like crazy trying to address the symptoms, but what we need is comprehensive, front-end science,” he said, directing the conference of more than 180 people to find ways to put their findings into language useful to people across the state – from planners and engineers to developers and residents or property owners.

Dave Fowler, Region V board director of the Association of State Floodplain Managers, said his group’s mission is to mitigate losses and suffering caused by flooding. “Floods are natural, disasters are usually man-made. A lot of our development is in the way,” said Fowler. Floods cost billions annually, and the cost of damage rises each year, he said. “We know where floods are going to be, but we keep building there,” said Fowler, an engineer. Engineers should not build in flood-prone areas simply because they can, he said. Avoiding the floodplain saves money and heartbreak later, he said.

“Current government policy promotes development in risk areas, ignores changing conditions and ignores adverse impacts to existing properties, but also undervalues the natural functions of floodplains and wetlands,” Fowler said….

Lum's Pond in Delaware, shot by Moon Rhythm, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My friend and I were recently discussing about the prevalence of technology in our day to day lives. Reading this post makes me think back to that debate we had, and just how inseparable from electronics we have all become.

I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Societal concerns aside... I just hope that as memory becomes cheaper, the possibility of downloading our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's a fantasy that I dream about all the time.

(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=]R4i SDHC[/url] DS Qezv2)