Poor drainage

The answer to high water levels is, again and again, to dig more drainage channels. These, however, actually cause floods and drain the higher land of it’s most needed life-fluid.

Poor Drainage … 

Poor Drainage: that’s what a group of professional foresters once commented when they were seeing a flooded alder forest for the first time. It is what a farmer commented when his cornfield was under water. And it is what the Villagers thought when they had to pump water out of their cellars again. The answer to high water levels is, again and again, to dig drainage channels to drain the water away as soon as it falls from the sky. And every day the water flows a bit faster downstream. This causes more floodings downstream and the drained higher land actually lacks water in summer.

The Problem or a Solution?

There’s another answer to the recurring flooding problems, but to see it, you have to re-think. What if the problem is not “poor drainage”, but instead “poor spatial planning”? If flooded forests are not inaccessible places to harvest wood, but instead places to store valuable drinking water? When a flooded cornfield is not a wasted harvest, but a lost chance to store irrigation water for next week’s drought? And what if the flooded cellars and houses are the result of too much drainage upstream, instead of not enough drainage downstream?

Setting Land Aside to Store Water

True, it is difficult to harvest wood in wet forests and corn won’t grow in the water either. But there is another opportunity in wet places. It is called “ecotourism”, and all that is needed is to bring nature-lovers over. Imagine standing in a low bog, surrounded by flies, perhaps even biting gadflies and mosquitoes, to see some tiny plant which grows nowhere else in the world. A nightmare? For some, perhaps, but for an increasing number of people, this is the highlight of a holiday! You can find managed production forests and cornfields anywhere, but do you know where to find sundew and lady’s tresses orchids? Or yellow-bellied toads and beautiful demoiselles (a species of damselfly)?

And when you don’t think about nature …

But perhaps, you never heard of any of these plants and animals or you really don’t care. Well, then just think of the need to store water for drinking and irrigation and downstream flood preventions next time when someone starts arguing that more drainage is needed …

Sundews are terrestrial plants but grow only where the ground is water-soaked. The slightest change of water regime can make them disappear. 

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