Areas adjacent to the coast are most at risk to life and severe property damage from dangerous coastal surge. Coastal floodplain areas function to attenuate the impacts of coastal surge flooding. These floodplains along the coastal barrier islands, bays and the other estuarine coastline provide a buffer to accommodate temporary flooding (tidal or storm driven). This buffer, in combination with prudent development, allows for buildings to weather intermittent flooding with a minimum of disruption and cost.
Wetlands in particular function as natural sponges that trap and slowly release surface water, rain, snowmelt, groundwater and flood waters. Trees, root mats, and other wetland vegetation also slow the speed of flood waters and distributes them more slowly over the floodplain. This combined water storage and braking action lowers flood heights and reduces erosion. Wetlands within and downstream of urban areas are particularly valuable, counteracting the greatly increased rate and volume of surface water runoff from pavement and buildings. The holding capacity of wetlands helps control floods and prevents water logging of crops. Preserving and restoring wetlands, together with other water retention, can often provide a level of flood control otherwise provided by expensive dredge operations and levees.
These areas can also be attractive targets for people to live. Developing these sites must be done responsibly and must conform to a federal, state, and local regulations to ensure that development does not impact water quality, species habitat, or flood protection. To preserve the ability of floodplains and wetlands to properly function please keep in mind the following:
- Don’t interfere with tidal flow by blocking culverts, tidegates, or tidal streams
- Don’t fill or dump in wetlands
- Don’t dump animal waste, household wastes, or litter into the water.
- Keep unauthorized structures or fill out of wetlands and the Resource Protection Area
- Landscape your property appropriately, use a vegetated buffer of a variety of native plants and reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers in sensitive areas.
- Preserve and possibly restore your wetlands
- Consider establishing living shorelines and other alternatives to bulkheads and hardened shorelines
- Obtain proper permits prior to working in tidal wetlands or the Resource Protection Area
- Contact proper authorities if you see illegal activities in these sensitive areas