Designing a flood storage option on agricultural land: What can flood risk managers learn from drought management?

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The increasing probability of loss and damage to floods is a global concern. Countries are united by an urgent need to reduce flood risk to households, businesses, agricultural land, and infrastructure. As natural and engineered protection erodes with climate change and development pressures, new approaches to flood risk management delivered at the catchment scale that work with nature hold promise. One nature-based solution that aligns with this Special Issue on river flooding is the temporary storage of floodwaters on the floodplain. In many countries, this would involve controlled flooding inland low-lying agricultural land. Designing schemes that farmers and irrigation districts will adopt is essential. To inform future floodplain storage options, we review farm-centred drought management, specifically, agreements that transfer agricultural water to municipalities through fallowing in California, USA and an Australian farm exit scheme. These initiatives reveal underpinning principles around the need to: balance the multiple objectives of the parties, share the benefits and responsibilities, address local impacts and practical guidance on incentive design including the consideration of conditional participation requirements and responding to farmer and public preferences. In terms of funding there is opportunity for blended financing with flood-prone communities, insurers, and conservation charities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2604
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sep 2021


  • Drought and flood management
  • Floodplain storage
  • Nature-based solutions
  • Payments for farmers

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