Interacting Flood Mitigations

Riverine flooding is one of the most significant natural hazards globally in terms of risks to life and one of the most costly and chronic hazards in the USA. Responses to riverine flooding are multi-scalar, simultaneously arising from national, state, local and private actors. The multiplicity of involvement in adaptation stems in part from the distribution of authority across levels of government and over private property. Interactions between adaptations undertaken by differing actors and at differing locations across the watershed can have a substantial effect on flood risk at any one point. Actions taken in one portion of the watershed change the dynamics of flow across the system. Thus within a watershed, there is the potential for risk relocation as well as risk reduction. Further, adaptive actions taken by one individual or group influence the willingness or perceived need for action by another individual or group.  

This research investigates how adaptations undertaken by different levels (individual, community, state, federal) combine to influence flood risk across the watershed. In determining the choice of flood response strategy, decision-makers balance a variety of criteria including cost, maintenance, appearance, and ease of implementation. Decisions are also influenced by the situational context including geographic, political, legal, economic and institutional factors. Consequently, this research seeks to determine how adaptations at the federal, state, local government level and by private land-owners influence and respond to one another.


This research was supported by the United States Geological Survey under Grant No. G11AP20085; the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station and the Department of Environmental Conservation under Project No. MAS00023; and an Edith Robinson Fellowship.