Combined Structural and Nonstructural Measures to Reduce Flood Losses

From the first attempts to reduce flood losses in the United States, structural measures were preferred for three main reasons: (1) their benefits appeared to be relatively easy to measure, (2) they did not require extensive and politically controversial land-use planning, and, (3) the federal cost-sharing agreements encouraged communities to select the most expensive engineering projects. These reasons were supported by a faith in the technology of structural measures to protect people and property from floods.

The record now shows that in spite of massive expenditures, flood losses have continued to rise. Since the 1960s, especially in the United States, there has been a call for a shift from primarily structural measures to control floods to nonstructural measures (Galloway, 1994; Larson, 1996; Williams, 1998). Land-use control is one of the most effective ways of reducing flood hazards. Statutes, ordinances, regulations, and compulsory purchases can be employed and relocation can be subsidized. A floodway left undeveloped through the city can become beautiful public open space.

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