Flood Loss Reduction from Agricultural Best Management Practices

Authors: Federico Antolini*, University of Iowa, Eric Tate, University of Iowa, Kris Johnson, The Nature Conservancy, Brent Dalzell, University of Minnesota, Nathan Young, University of Iowa
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Agricultural Geography, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: agricultural BMP, best management practice, green infrastructure, flood hazard, flood losses
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Galvez, , Marriott, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Best management practices (BMPs) play an important role in reducing water quality impairments from conventional row crop agriculture. In addition to reducing nutrient and sediment loads, BMPs such as fertilizer management, reduced tillage, and cover crops alter the hydrology of agricultural systems and reduce surface water runoff. While attention is devoted to the water quality benefits of BMPs, the potential co-benefits of flood loss reduction are often overlooked. This study quantifies the effects of selected commonly-applied BMPs on expected flood loss to downstream agricultural and urban areas in four Iowa watersheds. The analysis couples a watershed hydrologic model, hydraulic model outputs, and a flood risk model to determine relationships between hydrologic changes from BMP implementations and expected annualized flood loss. The results indicate a modest peak discharge and loss reduction, with greater loss reduction where urban centers and other valuable assets are in the floodplain. The research demonstrates that basin-scale implementation of certain agricultural BMPs could provide flood loss reduction benefits in addition to nutrient reduction and water quality improvements. In the future, a rigorous BMPs' cost-benefit analysis and extending the study to larger watershed scales may provide further indications for their effective implementation.

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