Washington D.C. and its surrounding areas have seen an extreme amount of rainfall throughout the last week causing sewage overflows and many streets to be flooded. The latest round of flooding brought five inches in two hours to most of the area overwhelming the drainage networks.
The National Weather Service keeps a list of populated areas near streams that are known to flood in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Those areas include Northeast D.C. near the Minnesota Avenue Metro Station, parts of Laurel, Maryland, and Alexandria’s Cameron Run. Baltimore’s northeast quadrant and the Dead Run watershed area of Woodlawn is also prone to flooding. That’s because nearly 40 percent of the area is covered with pavement or buildings.
Developers in these areas need to consider stormwater runoff when building new projects. In severe rain events, stormwater flows faster off waterproof surfaces than it would off the undeveloped land. A computer algorithm was used to analyze satellite images of roughly 7,700 square miles covering the D.C. and Baltimore metro areas. This analysis looked at how much of the area has been paved or built on from 1984-2010, which turned out to be 94 square miles or roughly the size of Baltimore. The pace of development almost doubled during those 36 years.
To protect the areas, fortifying buildings and upgrading stormwater mitigation structures are recommended. Many of the counties are currently working on projects to restore streams, improve culverts, strengthen structures and hold back erosion. One county, in particular, Howard County, announced less than a month ago it received $1 million to improve a culvert near Main Street and improve downtown’s storm drainage network.
Regardless of the work being done to prevent flooding, the potential for flooding is always going to be there. Especially because experts believe global climate change will increase the intensity of storms.
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