Skip to main content
Log in

Examining the relationship between wetland alteration and watershed flooding in Texas and Florida

  • Published:
Natural Hazards Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Inland flooding remains one of the greatest threats to the safety of human population in the United States (US). While few large-scale studies exist, the potential role of naturally occurring wetlands in mitigating flood duration and intensity has been widely discussed. This study examines the relationship between wetland alteration and coastal watershed flooding in Texas and Florida over a 12-year period. Specifically, we geo-reference wetland alteration permits required under Section 404 of the US Clean Water Act and correlate the number of granted permits with the degree of flooding measured by stream gauge data. Results indicate that specific types of federal permits exacerbate flooding events in coastal watersheds while controlling for various environmental and socioeconomic characteristics.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Ammon DC, Wayne HC, Hearney JP (1981) Wetlands’ use for water management in Florida. J␣Water Res Plan Manage 107(WR2):315–327

    Google Scholar 

  • Association of State Floodplain Managers (2000) National flood programs in review – 2000. Association of State Floodplain Managers, Madison, Wisconsin

    Google Scholar 

  • Berke Philip, Roenigk D, Kaiser E, Burby R (1996) Enhancing plan quality: evaluating the role of state planning mandates for natural hazard mitigation. J Environ Plan Manage 39:79–96

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Boelter DH, Verry ES (1977) Peatland and Water in the Northern Lake States. General Technical Report NC-31, US Department of Agriculture Forestry Service, North Central Experimental Station, St. Paul, Minnesota

  • Brody SD, Highfield WE (2005) Does planning work? Testing the implementation of local environmental planning in Florida. J Am Plan Assoc 71(2):159–175

    Google Scholar 

  • Brody SD, Highfield WE, Thornton S (2006) Planning at the urban fringe: an examination of the factors influencing nonconforming development patterns in Southern Florida. Environ Plan B 33:75–96

    Google Scholar 

  • Bullock A, Acreman M (2003) The role of wetlands in the hydrological cycle. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 7(3):358–389

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Conger S (1971) Estimating magnitude and frequency of floods in Wisconsin. US, Geological Survey open-file report, Madison, WI

    Google Scholar 

  • Culliton T, Warren M, Goodspeed T, Remor D, Blackwell C, McDonough J (1990) 50 years of population change along the nation’s coasts, 1960–2010. NOAA, Rockville, MD

    Google Scholar 

  • Daniel C (1981) Hydrology, geology, and soils of pocosins: a comparison of natural and altered systems. Pocosin Wetlands, Hutchinson Ross, Straudsburg, PA

    Google Scholar 

  • Day JW, Shaffer GP, Britsch LD, Reed DJ, Hawes SR, Cahoon D (2000) Pattern and process of land loss in the Mississippi Delta: a spatial and temporal analysis of wetland habitat change. Estuaries 20(1):1–13

    Google Scholar 

  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) (2004) Wetland mitigation, DEP online, October 10, 2004, URL:

  • Godschalk DR, Beatley T, Berke P, Brower DJ, Kaiser EJ (1999) Natural hazard mitigation: recasting disaster policy and planning. Island Press, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  • Heikuranen L (1976) Comparison between runoff condition on a virgin peatland and a forest drainage area. Proc., Fifth International Peat Congress, pp 76–86

  • Johnston CA., Detenbeck NE, Niemi GJ (1990) The cumulative effect of wetlands on stream water quality and quantity. A landscape approach. Biogeochemistry 10(2):105–141

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kelly NM (2001) Changes to the landscape pattern of coastal North Carolina wetlands under the Clean Water Act, 1984–1992. Land Ecol 16(1):3 – 16

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kentula ME, Sifneos JC, Good JW, Rylko M, Kunz K (1992) Trends and patterns in Section 404 permitting requiring compensatory mitigation in Oregon and Washington, USA. Environ Manage 16(1):109–119

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kingsford RT, Thomas RF (2002) Use of satellite image analysis to track wetland loss on the Murrumbidgee river floodplain in arid Australia, 1975–1998. Water Sci Technol 45(11):45–53

    Google Scholar 

  • Lewis WM (2001) Wetlands explained: wetland science, policy, and politics in America. Oxford University Press, New York, NY

    Google Scholar 

  • Mitch WJ, Gosselink JG (2000) Wetlands, 3rd ed. John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY

    Google Scholar 

  • Novitski RP (1979) Hydrologic characteristics of Wisconsin’s wetlands and their influence on floods, streamflow and sediment, Wetland Functions and Values: The State of our Understanding, Minneapolis, MN, pp 377–388

  • Novitski RP (1985) The effects of lakes and wetlands on flood flows and base flows in selected northern and eastern states. Proc., Conference on Wetlands of the Chesapeake, Easton, Maryland, Environmental Law Institute, pp 143–154

  • Ogawa H, Male JW (1986) Simulating the flood mitigation role of wetlands. J Water Res Plan Manage 112(1):114–128

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Padmanabhan FG, Bengston ML (2001) Assessing the influence of wetlands on flooding, Proc., ASCE Conference on Wetlands Engineering and River Restoration, Reno, Nev., pp 1–12

  • Stein ED, Ambrose RE (1998) Cumulative impacts of Section 404 Clean Water Act permitting on the riparian habitat of the Santa Margarita. California watershed, Wetlands 18(3):393 – 408

    Google Scholar 

  • Turner RE (1997) Wetland loss in the Northern Gulf of Mexico: multiple working hypotheses. Estuaries 20(1):1–13

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • United States Army Corps of Engineers (1996a) Public notice, LOP categories of work, Jacksonville District Corps of Engineers, URL: lop21may96.pdf(July 12, 2005)

  • United States Army Corps of Engineers (1996b) Public notice, Addendum, LOP categories of work, Jacksonville District Corps of Engineers, URL: < lop/lop_02aug96.pdf> (July 12, 2005)

  • United States Army Corps of Engineers (1997) Public notice, Second Addendum, LOP categories of work, Jacksonville District Corps of Engineers, URL: <> (July 12, 2005)

  • United States Army Corps of Engineers (2002) Services to the public: flood damage reduction, URL: <> (July 7, 2005)

  • United States Army Corps of Engineers (2005) U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—Jacksonville District Regional General Permits, URL: < permits.htm> (July 12, 2005)

  • USACE, Issuance of Nationwide Permits, Notice (2005) Fed Regist 67(10):2019–2095

    Google Scholar 

  • Verry ES, Boelter DH (1978) Peatland hydrology, wetland functions and values: the state of our understanding, Minneapolis, MN, pp 389–402

  • Williams J, Wood C, Dombeck M (eds) (1997) Watershed restoration: principles and practices. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD

Download references


This article is based on research supported in part by the US National Science Foundation Grant No. CMS-0346673 to the Texas A&M University. The findings and opinions reported are those of the authors and are not necessarily endorsed by the funding organization or those who provided assistance with various aspects of the study.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Samuel D. Brody.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Brody, S.D., Highfield, W.E., Ryu, HC. et al. Examining the relationship between wetland alteration and watershed flooding in Texas and Florida. Nat Hazards 40, 413–428 (2007).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: