Wetlands, Flooding, and the Clean Water Act
This study estimates the value of wetlands in flood mitigation in the United States, finding that each hectare of wetland loss costs our communities on average $1,840 annually, spiking to $8,000 in developed areas.
In 2020 the EPA narrowed the definition of ‘Waters of the United States’, significantly limiting wetland protection under the Clean Water Act. Current policy debates center on the uncertainty around wetland benefits. We estimate the value of wetlands for flood mitigation across the US using detailed flood claims and land use data. We find the average hectare of wetland lost between 2001 and 2016 cost society $1,840 annually, and over $8,000 in developed areas. We document significant spatial heterogeneity in wetland benefits, with implications for flood insurance policy and the 50% of ‘isolated’ wetlands at risk of losing federal protection.
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Press Release — Jan 24, 2022
Losing a Hectare of Wetlands Could Cost Upward of $8,000 in Flood Damages
A paper by scholars at Resources for the Future and Columbia University finds that wetland loss can cost thousands of dollars in annual flood damages per hectare—a finding that could help inform unfolding discussions about wetland protections under the Cl
Media Highlight — Apr 17, 2022
The Hill: "Wetland Conservation is Worth the Cost"
Based on her new study about the economic benefits of wetlands, RFF Fellow Hannah Druckenmiller discusses the nuances of private wetland ownership in her op-ed for The Hill.