Cities and towns along the Mississippi River and Ducks Unlimited, a major hunting and conservation group, are teaming up to reduce flood dangers, made worse and more frequent by climate change, by restoring wetlands, the Wall Street Journal reports. By creating wetland along the river and its tributaries, the partnership between hunters and about 100 mayors from the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative are moving toward a longer-term, and less parochial view of flood protection.
“In the past, what everybody tried to do was build a Great Wall of China around whatever they owned,” Phil Stang, mayor of Kimmswick, Missouri told the Journal. “That may work slightly for them in the short term, but for other people, it doesn’t work at all,” because it just sends more water downstream.
The impetus for the project was catalyzed by the devastating floods across the Midwest in 2019, coupled with research showing the impact of wetlands restoration. More than 1 million acres flooded across the Midwest in 2019, causing $6.2 billion in damages, but just 60,000 acres of wetlands near Davenport, Iowa, St. Louis and Cairo, Ill. at about $150 million could cut the chances of a once-in-a-century flood overtopping levees in those cities by a full 10%. “It’s part of our new normal under the climate-change conditions we’re facing,” Larry Weber, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Iowa and co-founder of the Iowa Flood Center, told the Journal. (Wall Street Journal $; Climate Signals background: Flooding, Extreme precipitation increase)