For instance, a former farmland experimentally restored to wetland in
Illinois indicated that 5.7 acres of wetland could soak excess flood water
from 410 acres of watershed. If 3% of farmland in the Mississippi River
watershed were returned to wetland [which involves regrading the land and
destroying subsurface drainage tiles], the resulting marsh could have kept
the Mississippi River in its banks during the catastrophic 1993 flood. This
same amount of wetland [13 million acres would be needed for flood control]
it is said would also filter out pollutants and produce high quality water
throughout the drainage area. More interesting, farmers are already setting
aside more than 3% of their land [though presumably not the land best
situated for flood control]. I imagine an economist could weigh the costs
and benefits of the approach -- indeed, I would be surprised if someone has
not already done it.
In California, I know that the Lundbergs make much of the waterfowl and
wildlife attracted to their organic rice paddies. Even some of the
rainforests survive, perhaps even need, periodic flooding. Cranberries and
wild rice are other crops that seem to co-exist with water or periodic
The article also suggests that strategic re-creation of wetlands that had
been formerly cleared for farmlands would have multiple benefits, including
the return of much wildlife. In the experiments, providing the habitat was
enough to lure back the wildlife, including an endangered bird species.
Kind of like "Field of Dreams" -- you build it, and they will come.
Joel Grossman --- firstname.lastname@example.org ---