Channelization Could Make Sandy’s Impact Worse

Last fall Tropical Storm Irene and Lee did a number on the Hudson and Adirondack watershed in NY, but then the following Spring, the fishing was absolutely spectacular in rivers left to their own devices to heal. At that time, in a blatant act of dumb reaction and vote-mongering, Gov. Andrew Cuomo suspended heavy machinery permitting and gave upstate counties in NY carte blanche to channelize (read: flatten and straigten) the local creeks and streambeds doing even more damage than the storm. Vermont had a similar problem. TU and other conservation organizations had to sue to get them to even acknowledge the problem. Channelizing the rivers doesn’t dissipate flooding, it actually makes it worse.

From the PA TU Council describes channelization: Stream channelization may reduce or prevent localized flood damage; however, it has negative impacts on the stream environment. The spilling of streams onto their floodplains is a natural event. Stream channelization creates a false confidence and leads to increased pressure for development in flood-prone areas. To the extent that channelization is successful in keeping water out of the floodplain in a localized area, flood damage is almost certain to be increased downstream. The increased volume and velocity of water downstream exacerbates flooding and erosion; threatening homes, businesses, bridges and roads

With 100-year storms turning out to be once-a-year storms, God help the folk downstream of channelized rivers and streams… Hopefully the same mistakes won’t be repeated in VA, MD, PA, VT, NJ, NY and the other states affected by Sandy.

Meanwhile, might as well organize the flybox.

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