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Value to the Nation


Flood Risk: Terms and Techniques

Non-Structural Flood Prevention Measures

Traditionally, structural solutions such as levees, dikes and dams have been used to control flood waters. In recent years, though, the Corps also has begun to use many non-structural solutions. Non-structural measures modify the ways that a floodplain is used and can provide places for floodwaters to go while avoiding damage to communities. These solutions encompass measures such as expanding floodways and natural habitats, creating flood-water storage basins, enacting permanent evacuation of flood-prone areas, floodplain management initiatives, and installing flood-warning systems.

What are floodplains?

Floodplains are complex systems that support ecological, social and economic services. Many of the functions and processes of floodplains cannot easily be quantified. Some examples of the diversity of benefits of floodplain areas are:

  • Natural flood reduction capabilities
  • Fish and wildlife habitat
  • Natural vegetation
  • Surface water quality and quantity
  • Groundwater quality and quantity
  • Open space
  • Agricultural land
  • Recreation
  • Historic and archaeological preservation

Significant changes to floodplains can upset this delicate balance.

Flood Risk Management Graphics

The USACE Flood Risk Management Program works across the agency to focus the policies, programs and expertise of USACE toward reducing overall flood risk. This includes the appropriate use and resiliency of structures such as levees and floodwalls, as well as promoting alternatives when other approaches (e.g. land acquisition, flood proofing, etc.) reduce the risk of loss of life, reduce longer-term economic damages to the public and private sector, and improve the natural environment.