OSU: New Oregon Wetlands Plan May Halt Massive Floods

OSU wetlands concept is also viewed as crop booster.

Published on: Apr 5, 2013

A new approach to wetland management is offered by Oregon State University researchers who put their ideas online for landowners to review.

Based on a study in the Midwest OSU conducted with other universities under a National Science Foundation grant supplemented by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, the researchers in Corvallis, Ore., say their website offers ideas to let users apply the principles to their own land.

OSU engineers developed the interactive system to create networks of small wetlands on farmland, which they say may help prevent massive flooding and retain water to mitigate droughts.

Wetlands like this one could benefit from new Oregon State University research to create a network of such properties in the Midwest.
Wetlands like this one could benefit from new Oregon State University research to create a network of such properties in the Midwest.

WRESTORE is a web-based and user friendly way to participate in a support system that can help the nation's policymakers design a distributed system of  watershed conservation, explain researchers at OSU.

The focus was on the Midwest, says Meghna Babbar-Sebens of OSU, because the region is one of the nation's great food producing areas where millions of acres of wetlands have been drained to make way for farming.

"Agriculture, deforestation, urbanization and residential development have all played a role," says the assistant civil and construction engineer. Now, she wants to find a way to retain and slowly release water in the area to use it for agriculture and to prevent flooding.

That's what WRESTORE attempts to do, she explains.

Massive flooding has become more commonplace, she notes, as a possible result of climate change.

The website offers tools toward the end of wetland restoration.

Based on the overall performance of the practices in the simulated environment offered on the site, farmers can identify alternatives most practical for their individual needs.

A farmer concerned with erosion can explore multiple types of best management practices and locations where the practices can be employed on his land, for example.

Experts involved in the study have identified ways to use winter cover crops and grass waterways that help retain and slowly release water.