Linking Wetland Alteration to Coastal Flooding: predictors, consequences, and policy implications


Jan. 24, 2007


Brody, S

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Galveston Bay Estuary Program


Floods continue to pose the greatest threat to the property and safety of human communities among all natural hazards in the United States. While the link between urbanization and flooding is established, the degree to which specific characteristics of the built environment affect the level of damage sustained by a community has never been thoroughly investigated at the regional scale. Our study addresses this lack of research by examining the relationship between the built environment and flood impacts in Texas, which consistently sustains the most damage from flooding of any other state in the country. Specifically, we calculate property damage resulting from 423 flood events over a five year period from 1997 and 2001 at the county level, paying particular attention to the local jurisdictions surrounding Galveston Bay. We identify the impact of several built environment measures, including wetland alteration, impervious surface, and dams on reported property damage while controlling for biophysical and socioeconomic characteristics. Results indicate that where we chose to develop and how we protect communities from the adverse consequences of natural hazards significantly impacts the amount of property damage resulting from flooding. These evidence-based finding provide guidance to planners and decision makers on how to build more sustainable, resilient communities over the long term.




dams, environmental impacts, flooding, impervious surfaces, wetland alteration