Natural Infrastructure Practices as Potential Flood Storage and Reduction for Farms and Rural Communities in the North Carolina Coastal Plain
2. Nature-Based Solutions
“Darling had what he thought was a better idea, backed by experience, knowledge and successful demonstration projects. In a hearing conducted in 1950, in conjunction with plans to build Iowa’s Red Rock Reservoir, Darling testified: ‘We have ample proof on demonstration areas that runoff can be stopped before the waters reach the rivers and thereby save not only the water but the soil which is washed off with it. On such demonstration areas we have the triple benefit of flood control, soil conservation and restocking of our subterranean water table.’”(, p. 260)
- What are the most effective natural infrastructure practices that can be used for rural lands in North Carolina?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of each of the selected natural infrastructure practices?
- Can the identified flood disaster mitigation practices be effective at the individual practice level for individual farms?
- Can the identified flood disaster mitigation practices be effective in aggregate at the downstream watershed or community level?
- What are the co-benefits of natural infrastructure flood mitigation practices for water quality protection?
3. North Carolina Coastal Plain
Iterative NBS Scoping Process
5.1. Cover Crops and No-Till
5.2. Hardpan Breakup
5.5. Wetland Restoration
5.6. Stream Restoration
5.7. Berms and Dry Dams
5.8. Land Drainage and Water Retention with Tiling and Terraces
6.1. Implications for the North Carolina Coastal Plain
6.2. NBS Research and Practice in Other Locations
6.3. Future Research
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
|1||Cover crops and no till||Keep plants on the fields in winter to help improve soil infiltration throughout the year. No till also reduces soil erosion and rapid overland flow.|
|1||Break Up Hardpan||Break up hardpan to allow for deeper water infiltration may slow runoff.|
|1||Forestry||Plant hardwood and pine trees on marginal crop or pasture lands|
|1||Agroforestry||Mixes of trees and pasture grasses may increase infiltration and slow runoff.|
|1||Wetland Restoration||Restore natural wetland areas along streams, or along low points in the landscapes. In NC, may be able to restore the unique Carolina Bays. Plant wetland plant species or trees in marginal crop or pasture lands. Create wetland basin to store water temporarily.|
|1||Stream Restoration||Restore and convert streams to a natural, meandering configuration.|
|1||Dry Dams and Berms (i.e., Water Farming)||Create catchment areas to hold excess water in times of flooding and allow water to flow freely in normal conditions.|
|1||Land Drainage Controls||Install tiling and tile-outlet terraces to drain excess water from agriculture land.|
|2||Flood Tolerant and Preferable Crop and Pasture Species||Use preferred grass species such as summer grasses (e.g., bluestem, switchgrass)|
|2||Greentree Reservoirs||Manage restored wetlands with tree species, largely for migratory birds and hunting|
|2||Daylight Piped Streams||Restore natural stream channel and floodplain, a type of stream restoration|
|2||Pump Water from Rivers/Canals onto Private Property||Pump water from rivers onto adjacent properties for storage after heavy rains. Storage areas can be drainage ditch networks, farm ponds, or wetlands. Mostly appears to be used by citrus groves in Florida.|
|2||Saturated Buffer on Fields||Install French drain-like structures on the downward slope side of the field.|
|2||Fill Drainage Ditches||Create drainage ditches that are filled with coarse sand to slow runoff.|
|2||Bio-Retention Basins||Develop bio-detention areas and planting wetland vegetation around them.|
|2||Coastal Wetland Restoration||Restore wetland systems along the coastline, providing a buffer against storm surges.|
|3||Aquifer Recharge System||Inject surface waters into underground aquifers for storage.|
|3||Leaky Dams||Install dams made of large logs installed in tributaries and wetlands, simulating beaver dams.|
Appendix B. North Carolina Topography Map and Major River Systems Geospatial Information Services (GIS) Sources
Appendix B.1. Hillshade—20ft Grid Cells
Appendix B.2. North Carolina Boundary (Extracted from National File)
Appendix B.3. Coastal Plain Physiographic Region (Level III Ecoregions of the Conterminous United States)
Appendix B.4. Major Rivers (National Hydrography Dataset Plus—High Resolution)
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|Categories||Best Practices and Descriptions|
|Cover crops and no-till||(1) Including legume and non-legume cover crops on fields during winter|
|Hardpan breakup||(2) Breaking up compacted hardpan layers to allow for soil water infiltration|
|Forests and Tree Planting||Planting (3) bottomland hardwood or (4) pine forest species|
|Agroforestry||(5) Combining mixed pine trees and pasture fields|
|Wetland and Stream|
|Wetland restoration and retention basins||Restoring natural wetlands in or along waterways with (6) the use of grasses, sedges, and water control structures in water retention basins or (7) bottomland hardwood forest wetland banks|
|Natural stream channel restoration||(8) Restoring previously straightened streams to a natural configuration|
|Dry dams and berms (water farming)||(9) Constructing low-level dams and berms to retain and store floodwater during storm events|
|Land drainage features||(10) Installing land drainage controls to manage runoff|
|Practice||2012 Area (ha)||2017 Area (ha)||2017 Percent of Total Crop Farmland in NC|
|Practices||Potential for Flood Reduction||Time Required||Complexity||Cost||Compatibility with Other Practices||Co-Benefits|
|+ (Minimal) + + (Moderate) + + + (Substantial)|
|Cover crops and no-till||+||+ +||+||+ +||+ + +||+ + +|
|Hardpan breakup||+||+||+||+||+ + +||+|
|Agroforestry||+||+||+||+ +||+ + +||+ + +|
|Wetland and Stream|
|Wetland restoration||+ + +||+ + +||+ + +||+ + +||+ + +||+ + +|
|Forest wetland bank||+ +||+ +||+ +||+ +||+||++|
|Restore natural stream channels||+ +||+ + +||+ + +||+ + +||+ + +||+ + +|
|Dry dams and berms||+ + +||+++||+++||+++||+ +||+ +|
|Simple drainage features||+ +||+ +||+ +||+ +||+ +||+ +|
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Hovis, M.; Hollinger, J.C.; Cubbage, F.; Shear, T.; Doll, B.; Kurki-Fox, J.J.; Line, D.; Fox, A.; Baldwin, M.; Klondike, T.; Lovejoy, M.; Evans, B.; West, J.; Potter, T. Natural Infrastructure Practices as Potential Flood Storage and Reduction for Farms and Rural Communities in the North Carolina Coastal Plain. Sustainability 2021, 13, 9309. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13169309
Hovis M, Hollinger JC, Cubbage F, Shear T, Doll B, Kurki-Fox JJ, Line D, Fox A, Baldwin M, Klondike T, Lovejoy M, Evans B, West J, Potter T. Natural Infrastructure Practices as Potential Flood Storage and Reduction for Farms and Rural Communities in the North Carolina Coastal Plain. Sustainability. 2021; 13(16):9309. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13169309Chicago/Turabian Style
Hovis, Meredith, Joseph Chris Hollinger, Frederick Cubbage, Theodore Shear, Barbara Doll, J. Jack Kurki-Fox, Daniel Line, Andrew Fox, Madalyn Baldwin, Travis Klondike, Michelle Lovejoy, Bryan Evans, Jaclyn West, and Thomas Potter. 2021. "Natural Infrastructure Practices as Potential Flood Storage and Reduction for Farms and Rural Communities in the North Carolina Coastal Plain" Sustainability 13, no. 16: 9309. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13169309