What We Put in the River's Way:
Wetland loss & Urban Development

"The Great Flood of 1993 along the Upper Mississippi River and its tributaries was, like all floods, largely a product of weather and topography. But its human costs were very much the result of what people had put in the river's way."

So begins Scott Faber's study of the Great Flood of 1993, On Borrowed Land. What, exactly, did people 'put in the river's way?' This page provides clues to two key ways that we contribute to flooding and the damage it causes by the way we use the land.

Loss of Wetlands.

This illustration shows areas of wetlands--swamps, marshes, and bogs--that have been lost since 1780 in the Upper Mississippi watershed.

QUESTION
What impact do you think the destruction of wetlands could have on flooding?

Urban Development.
Communities-- from tribal villages to modern cities--have developed on river banks for thousands of years in North America and elsewhere.

QUESTIONS
Why do you think cities develop on river banks so commonly? What problems related to flooding can you think of that might result from building on flood plains?

Return to the
Chasing the Flood
Activities page.

Center for Global Environmental Education
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