While properties adjacent to streams and rivers often offer qualities that make them desirable for development, many also come with some degree of risk as a result of flooding. When flooding disasters occur in Indiana, inundation-related losses can be substantial. Fortunately, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has greatly reduced these losses by guiding floodplain management and mitigation practices as they relate to damage associated with floodwater inundation. It must be recognized, however, that inundation-related damages are not the only flood-related hazard associated with rivers, streams, and floodplains.
The fluvial erosion hazard (FEH) also represents a significant concern in areas where development and infrastructure are established in close proximity to natural waterways. Communities must be mindful of the tendency of waterways to shift their position across the landscape over time. By identifying where interaction between human activities and natural waterways exist, communities and individual property owners can better anticipate the potential for FEH damages; making them more resilient to the effects of flooding. The Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) has recently released a White Paper that discussing the continuing recognition of the significance of FEH in flood losses. The document can be found at: https://www.floods.org/ace-images/ASFPMRiverineErosionWhitePaperFeb2016.pdf
The Indiana Silver Jackets Hazard Mitigation Task Force has initiated a multi-agency program to identify, study, and provide mitigation planning resources for individuals and communities who would like to adopt FEH avoidance strategies. The FEH effort being undertaken in Indiana is modeled after an FEH program developed by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and will greatly benefit from the well-documented strategies, protocols, and products established within that program. While supported by all the agencies and groups active in the Indiana Silver Jackets, three participating groups share the primary responsibilities for implementing this program. These groups include the Center for Earth and Environmental Science (CEES) at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI), the Polis Center (Polis) at IUPUI, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) – Indiana Water Science Center. Working with shared resources, staff, and goals, these three groups are currently conducting a broad variety of science, mapping, and educational activities related to the FEH program in Indiana. Funding for this program has been provided by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) through a grant provided by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
*Image courtesy of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security