ASFPM Riverine Erosion Hazards White Paper released February 2016 by the ASFPM Riverine Erosion Hazards Working Group
Despite billions of dollars being spent on flood control strategies and mitigation, and continuing efforts to educate the public about flood hazards, flood losses continue to increase. One reason is well known—continued development in and around floodplains. Another reason is that most of the effort to curb flood loss has been directed at inundation, leaving initiatives to mitigate the significant damage to infrastructure from riverine erosion on the sidelines.
Erosion and deposition are among the natural processes of a river. However, the direction, rate and scale of these processes have been altered by human activity within channels, floodplains and upland watersheds. Structural controls and channelization measures historically applied to protect near-stream development have exacerbated riverine erosion over time, increasing the vulnerability of the infrastructure, homes and businesses they were meant to protect.
The nation must begin to break the costly cycle of encroachment, erosion-related damage, structural controls, further encroachment and so on. While some state and local jurisdictions have implemented programs to restrict new development or redevelopment in erosion-prone areas and mitigate hazards by working in concert with natural river processes, their numbers have been limited. The problem or challenge is how best to follow through and support the state and local needs for technical, legal and financial assistance necessary to create riverine erosion hazard programs.
The main purpose of this White Paper is to encourage state and local governments to begin mapping riverine erosion hazard areas in their communities. The mapping should be carried out using methodologies that they feel are appropriate for their specific conditions and at a level of detail that meets their specific requirements. This White Paper looks into the successes and challenges of this approach, and offers 11 recommendations.