Flood Plain Management

Number: 1975-04


WHEREAS, present governmental flood plain policies reflect past needs–ready access to water transportation, easy water supply, simplified construction sites, and multi-facet management with continued development; and

WHEREAS, current floods frequently are higher and more destructive and expensive, despite structural protective works (dams, levees, channels), than those of the past, with needless losses of natural resources, personal property, and hazards to public health and safety; and

WHEREAS, the problems of flood plain development are ascribable to past policy involving:

  1. lack of uniform management practices compounded by conflicting federal, state, and local programs;
  2. a benefit-to-cost incentive in the development of the flood plain, accompanied by a laissez-faire attitude on the parts of both citizens and government;
  3. national emphasis on structural control of floods rather than on compatible uses of the flood plain; and (4) weak governmental administration in upstream rural areas where the flood plain can be controlled best; and

WHEREAS, the encouragement of additional flood plain development and greater flood and land use disasters could result in a tax burden amounting to as much as $12 billion annually by the year 2000; and

WHEREAS, the 100-year flood plain accounts for approximately five percent (5%) of the Nation’s total land surface, and is an area highly productive in fish and wildlife habitat; consequently, its preservation and enhancement is a key to many recreational activities, including upland and lowland hunting and fishing; and

WHEREAS, wise utilization of flood plain resources requires a balance between development and preservation which is best achieved through sound land use planning;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Wildlife Federation, in annual convention assembled March 14-16, 1975, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, hereby expresses its belief that future governmental policies on flood control management must incorporate such features as:

  1. a strong and unified approach with an inherent flexibility for geographic variations;
  2. basin-wide as well as regional flood plain planning;
  3. economic incentives which discourage building in flood plains;
  4. educational efforts to inform the general public, elected officials, and other leaders about flood plains, flood probabilities, and alternatives of non-structural flood control;
  5. emphasis on the positive values of flood plains such as greenbelts, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreational opportunities, and water recharging;
  6. implementation of existing laws, accompanied by comprehensive land use regulations; and,
  7. strengthening and implementing provisions of the Federal Flood Insurance program so as to discourage the concept of “flood proof” construction on flood plains.