Lessons from the Floods - Floodplain Access

The vast Otter Creek Wetlands between Rutland and Middlebury protected downstream communities by soaking up immense amounts of water during Irene. Photo by VT DEC.

As climate change continues to bring increasingly intense storms to our region, communities will have to adapt to avoid flood damage. One way to do so is by restoring and protecting wetlands. In part two of LCC’s publication Lessons From the Floods we demonstrate the importance of allowing rivers to have access to their floodplains so that excess water could be stored and slowly released.

In places where rivers had floodplain access, damage was minimized. The Otter Creek Wetlands between Rutland and Middlebury provided the most dramatic example of floodplain storage. These wetlands were the difference between devastation and destruction in Rutland upstream and relative calm in Middlebury downstream. There are numerous examples of more small scale projects where improved floodplain access helped avoid downstream damage. Learn more about how floodplains store water and minimize flood damage.