Wetlands are a natural solution to a natural problem: flooding. Problem is, their name sounds like it’s the opposite – more of a problem than a solution.
- Wetlands? Get out the mop.
- Wetlands? Will I need galoshes?
- Wetlands? Just pave it.
- Wetlands? We can’t have that.
See what I mean? If we named them something else, something that had a benefit, maybe they would stand a fighting chance against bulldozers. For example:
- Flood-Prevention Lands? I’ll fight for that.
- Flood Buffer? Give me an extra one of those.
- Safety Shield? Don’t lose that.
- Guardlands? Better than free insurance!
Wetlands detain water during heavy rains. They let it flow away gradually at a rate that streams and bayous can handle naturally.
Here’s a visual example. We had heavy rains the night before I took this shot – almost four inches. When I went to East End Park the next morning, I saw the wetlands at the end of the main entry trail filled with water. There’s a natural, little bowl in the landscape there that covers a couple acres. After a very heavy rain, it usually takes a week or two for the water to drain away.
Contrast that with runoff coming out of the clearcut Woodridge Village below.
Why Wetlands are So Important
Watch this video taken from the porch of a house out of frame on the left of this shot. The home had never flooded before this area was clearcut and the natural drainage features were filled in. Notice a difference in the volume, clarity, and runoff rates of the water? Shortly after the rain started Tuesday, May 7, a lot of the water that hit this property filled the living rooms of Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest residents.
Abel Vera, who lives next to this recently denuded area, told me how his kids used to play in the woods and creeks that covered the wetlands to his north.
Sadly, it will be a few decades, if ever, before more kids have that opportunity again. If only we had named the wetlands on this property something else. Protector Ponds? Storm Shields? Heck, even Gator Haven would have worked. Developers could have sold tickets.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/7/2019
647 Days since Hurricane Harvey