The U. S. Flood Control Program at 75: Social Issues

By Peter E. Black.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The 1936 Omnibus Flood Control Act assigned upstream and downstream missions to the Soil Conservation Service and Army Corps of Engineers. Flood control is a flagrant violation of fundamental physics. In addition, the missions of both agencies fly in the face of the natural role of floods in the aquatic environment. The result is as damaging to human development as the development is to the environment. Human inroads on riverine environments are ramified in economic, policy, and political strategies now and in the future. This paper focuses on the social science issues within an environmental science framework. It discusses economic, historical, political, and sustainability issues. The evidence for what is wrong with the seventy-five year old program from environmental and social science viewpoints is overwhelming. A proposed alternative approach would enable and celebrate natural floods, would manage their hydrological values and not attempt to control them.

Keywords: Dams, Floods, Floodplain Hydrology, Ecology, Legislation, Benefit-cost Analysis, Economics, Politics, Earmarks

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 6, Issue 7, pp.169-182. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 799.051KB).

Dr. Peter E. Black

Professor of Water and Related Land Resources, Emeritus, Department of Forest and natural Resources Management, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY, USA

Peter E. Black taught and conducted research at SUNY since 1965. He received BSF and MF degrees from The University of Michigan in 1956 and 1958, and the PhD in Watershed Management from Colorado State University in 1961. He served as a Research Forester at the US Forest Service’ Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in North Carolina from 1956 to 1959, and taught at Humboldt State College in Arcata, CA from 1961 to 1965. He has given numerous short courses and workshops on watershed hydrology and regularly speaks at professional and NGO meetings as well as working with community organizations on water resources education and sustainability. Black has published an educational film, numerous articles on hydrology and water resources, and three books entitled “Environmental Impact Analysis” (1981), “Conservation of Water and Related Land Resources” (Third Edition, 2001); and “Watershed Hydrology” (Second Edition, 1996). He is the creator of “Water Drops”, two-minute public informative essays on all aspects of water science, history, culture, policy, law, and organizations.


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