Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of City and Regional Planning
Floods are a serious problem in the United States and, to date, most floodplain management programs have been failures. Despite a massive attack on the problem by various levels of government, floods are inflicting larger total and per capita losses than ever before. Average annual property losses due to flooding exceed two billion dollars (White et al., 1973:3). The floodplain is generally defined as the area of land that would be inundated by the worst flooding likely to occur in a hundred year period. Approximately 9.5% of all cultivable land, and 16.5% of all urban land, in the United States lies within a floodplain (Maddock, 1977:44). Furthermore, urban development encroaches on 1.5% to 2.5% of the total floodplain area in this country each year, even though much of this new development gains no special benefit from a floodplain location. In order to control further losses from flooding, land use management would have to prevent 80- 90% of the uneconomic part of this expansion (White et al., 1973:xviii). Public action in the management of floodplain use is necessary in order to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. Most importantly, floodplains are hazardous areas in which to live, and occupants impose costs upon themselves through the risk of death, injury, dislocation, and loss of property. In many instances occupants are aware of the risks involved with locating in a floodplain; however, new buyers, renters, and other temporary residents may be unaware of the risks if not warned of the hazard.