Sustainable flood defence: The case for washlands (ENRR406)

The extent to which natural floodplains form an integral part of river systems has been well demonstrated in the recent fluvial floods in England and Wales (throughout October/November 2000 and into 2001). Aerial photographs have vividly shown the limits of floodplains and commentators have remarked on the need to work with these natural systems to reduce flooding to areas where people and the built environment are at risk.

The service provided by floodplains can include washlands, which are flood storage areas used during times of high flow to reduce flooding in other parts of the catchment. If floodplains, and in particular washlands, can be managed in such a way as to reduce risk to people and the built environment, and at the same time provide additional habitat and other benefits, then there will be increased benefits to society from this integrated approach.

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