Floodplains convey floodwaters, but also have other important roles during both floods and during lower flow:
- Flood dissipation of flow energy (spread out flows and reduce flood velocity and erosive forces);
- Agriculture (periodic inundation and deposition in the floodplain area improves soil quality);
- Wildlife habitat – lush vegetation, mammal migration corridors and bird habitat;
- Water quality – filtering of stormwater through floodplain areas and vegetation can improve water quality entering the river;
- Recreation – floodplain areas preserved as open space can serve multi-use functions with trails, parks, play grounds, etc.
South Platte Park is a great example of a naturally-functioning floodplain. The Carson Nature Center and the park have interpretive signs and exhibits explaining the beneficial use of floodplains. Much of the park is located in the South Platte River floodplain, which was preserved following the 1965 flood. The South Platte River Corridor Vision is a planning document for the South Platte River and describes some of these values.
Mile High Flood District has produced a video highlighting benefits of preserving floodplain open space.
Smart development and planning within floodplain areas preserves these valuable functions!