Science & Technology

Losing a hectare of wetlands can cost $ 8,000 a year from flood damage

Losing a hectare of wetlands can cost $ 8,000 a year from flood damage

Wetlands play a valuable role in absorbing floods. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

New research The loss of a hectare of wetlands (a land area about the size of two football fields) has been found to cause an average of $ 1,900 per year in flood damage to society. In developed regions, that number jumps to over $ 8,000. This study was co-authored by scholars from Columbia University and the Resources for the Future. Scheduled to appear In the journal American Economic Review..

This paper, like the Supreme Court, provides new evidence of the benefits of wetlands. Take up the case This may limit federal jurisdiction over wetland protection under the Clean Water Act. The Environmental Protection Agency under the Biden administration is also in the process of redefining and renewing federal waterway regulations.

The findings are inconsistent with the Trump administration’s interpretation of the Clean Water Act, called the Navigable Waters Protection Regulations of 2020. The bill removed the protection of wetlands that are not directly connected to streams or rivers. The government cited the lack of a reliable estimate of the value of wetlands as justification for its simplified rules.

In addressing this data gap, new research reveals that, in fact, the most valuable wetlands for flood mitigation are the closest streams or wetlands just off the river.

Co-author Charles Taylor, a PhD candidate for Sustainable Development at Columbia University’s Institute for Global Studies and the Faculty of International Public Affairs, said:

“Wetlands bring significant benefits to the community by absorbing excess water that could otherwise cause floods,” said Hannah Drakken, co-author of the Resources for the Future and the paper. Miller says. “The problem is that these benefits are rarely quantified. Therefore, cost-benefit analysis can be distorted to prioritize costs when deciding which policy to initiate. This paper aims to highlight the benefits of wetlands in order to balance scale. “

By examining payments from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), researchers quantified how wetland losses are associated with increased flood damage. Most Americans with flood insurance use the NFIP, so claims made under this program may be a key component of flooding costs for homes. The authors found that the loss of wetlands significantly increased NFIP-based flood insurance claims. Flood claims increased by $ 1,900 annually due to the loss of an average of 1 hectare of wetlands between 2001 and 2016. In developed regions, the average has risen to over $ 8,000 per hectare.

The loss of wetlands between 2001 and 2016 caused the United States to suffer an estimated $ 600 million or more annually from flood damage, according to researchers. They also estimate that wetland conservation itself will be rewarded by flood reductions within 6 to 22 years.

Not all flood damage is known by the National Flood Insurance Program, so this paper may underestimate the value of wetlands to mitigate flood damage.The survey results are not taken into consideration advantage From recreation, habitat creation, water filtration, or fishing.

Adapted from release by Resources for the future

Losing a hectare of wetlands can cost $ 8,000 a year from flood damage Losing a hectare of wetlands can cost $ 8,000 a year from flood damage

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