Friday, September 10, 2010

Paved prairie means flooding

Randy Lee Loftis in the Dallas Morning News: The tropical downpour in North Texas this week showed one effect of decades of urbanization: flash floods worsened by the wholesale paving of the prairie. The remains of Tropical Storm Hermine left many neighborhoods awash Wednesday. And though few areas might escape flooding when 5 to 10 inches of rain falls in a day, planners say widespread development – the replacing of native grasslands and woods with roofs, roads and parking lots – has worsened the risk.

Water that once might have taken its time rambling along wide waterways and soaking into the soil now hurries toward the nearest overloaded drain or down a concrete-lined ditch. "You take out the natural ability for the water to percolate into the soil," said Jack Tidwell, an environment and development manager at the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the regional planning agency. "It's got to go someplace," he said.

Despite regional progress in steering development away from the critical flood plain of the Trinity River, North Texas' biggest outlet for floodwater, the trend of replacing open space with buildings and pavement is expected to continue….

On July 24, Hurricane Alex flooded communities in the city of Roma, the only way first responders were able get in and patrol the neighborhood was by boat. FEMA/Daniel Llargues

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