Publication Citation

3 (2) IUSTITIA 66 (1975)


Throughout history, man has utilized rivers for water supply, transportation, power generation, and waste disposal. This strong relationship has encouraged the location of human settlements near rivers and streams despite the risk of periodic flooding. The modern technology of transportation and public services has reduced the necessity for riverside locations, but the development of flood plains in urban areas has continued, resulting in the periodic loss of human life and property when flooding has occurred. Within the United States, flooding has taken over 5000 lives in the last fifty years and causes an estimated $1.25 billion in property damages annually.' This damage is the result of man's development of flood plain land interfering with the natural phenomenon of flooding. Unlike other natural "disasters" (tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning), the locus of flooding is identifiable and its occurence is reasonably predictable. Those who suffer from flooding usually could be viewed as assuming the risk of injury or property damage. Yet, as will be discussed later, other factors necessitate governmental interference in the landowner's decision to place development within a flood plain.