The Benefits of Flooding

Pedernales Falls Flooding

Pedernales Falls State Park Flood May 24 2015
© Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

This is Passport to Texas

Torrential rains in 2015 and again in 2016 ended five years of exceptional drought across Texas, but also caused rivers to flood.

It’s important to recognize that floods are a part of a functioning river system.

Ryan McGillicuddy is a Texas Parks and Wildlife conservation ecologist. We tend to focus on the negative impacts of flooding, but ecologically, floods have beneficial functions, too.

Once the water spills out of its normal channel, it infiltrates into that riparian zone, and becomes absorbed by that soil and then acts as a time-release capsule that feeds the river channel; the water makes its way back to the channel in the drier times of the year. There are also a number of fish and animal species that are dependent on floodwaters. There are a number of tree species that thrive on floodwaters. So, ecologically, there are a number of things a functioning floodplains provide.

A riparian zone is the land that parallels rivers and streams. A broad and wide undeveloped floodplain contains plenty of vegetation that forces floodwaters to slow down, giving soil time to absorb them, thus protecting more developed areas downstream.

It gives water a place to go.

Getting to know riparian zones…that’s tomorrow.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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