California plans up to $17 billion in flood protection improvements throughout the state’s floodprone Central Valley, according to Civil Engineering (March, 2012).

The Central Valley is supposed to flood.

The problem is that billions of dollars have been invested in agricultural production on the floodplain, so it needs to be protected…or does it?

It’s ironic when you think about it. The area is prime agricultural land because of thousands of years of nutrient rich soil being deposited by floods.  Now, we continue to invest billions of dollars into stopping this process while simultaneously applying millions of tons of inorganic fertilizers to the soil in an effort to boost production.

The story is not new, but when will we learn?  Think of what $17 billion dollars could do to restore and protect ecosystem services, including healthy productive soils, throughout North America, relying on natural processes. We do.

Further Reading

Pandemic Pause
E+D Podcast with Keith Bowers: The state of ecology and design in landscape architecture
Living Infrastructure: Green is great, but alive is even better
Water, Equity, and Ecology in Urban Planning
Composting Toilets: When Nature Calls

More From This Author

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Learning from Traditional Ecological Knowledge
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It’s a mistake to think that command and control engineering will make us safe from future storms