Beneficial Impacts of Floods

  • Recharging water sources:

Floods are part of the hydrological cycle. They are natural hydrological processes that provide variable river flows and are an intermittent source of freshwater supply, filling natural depressions and recharging groundwater. Inundation of the flood plains helps recharge the groundwater, which is an important source of freshwater in particular  in arid and semi-arid areas. They are an important water source for restocking natural or man-made water storages such as ponds, reservoirs, dams and irrigation channels thereby meeting round-the-year demand.

  • Agriculture:

Floodwaters carry nutrients and sediments, which are deposited on flood plains, enriching the soil reducing or obviating the need for nourishment through artificial fertilizers. Inundated areas retain soil moisture that helps raise crops without irrigation. Rice paddies are sometimes flooded deliberately to take advantage of this natural fertilization process.

  • Fishery:

A river basin is an ecological unit interconnecting spawning habitats with rearing habitats for a variety of species and other aquatic systems. Seasonal habitats on the flood plain, created by variable flow regimes, are essential for various stages of the life cycle of species. Floods provide an ecological trigger for both the spawning and migration of certain species.

  • Rejuvenation of the river ecosystem:

The river ecosystem is a critical habitat for the biota: fish, wildlife and waterfowl. Seasonal variability and variable sediment and flow regimes help maintain comparably high levels of biodiversity in rivers and flood plains. Wetlands or swamps located in flood plains serve as natural buffer zones for excessive flood flows and play host to many birds, fish and plants. Those areas can provide a number of ecosystem services and products such as water purification, food and fibre supplies and under certain circumstances (or antecedent conditions) flood mitigation benefits. Supplementary livelihoods in the form of recreational and eco-tourism activities can be made possible by the presence of the rich river ecosystem, bestowed with abundant flora and fauna. Surface runoff and flooding can help wash down pollutants and contaminants deposited on land caused by the intensive use of pesticides and fertilizers. They also flush out accumulated organic substances brought by untreated drainage water from farmlands, stockyards, factories and domestic use and restore the ecological health of stagnant river reaches and streams by diluting them and providing clean water.


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Further Information

Ecosystem Services