River Flooding Risk, Energy Efficiency Savings

For March 9, 2018

1 – The risk from flooding rivers is greatly underestimated.

A study published in a scientific journal called Environmental Research Letters says that 13 percent of Americans are at risk from river flooding. That’s more than three times the current estimate based on federal flood maps.

High water. Credit: distel2610/Pixabay

The study used a new high-resolution model that maps flood risk from rivers across the entire continental United States. Existing regulatory flood maps cover about 60 percent of that land.

Increased flooding risk was found in the Great Lakes region and elsewhere. And because climate change may cause floods to occur more frequently, more people in the Great Lakes region and elsewhere may be exposed to flooding in the future, the study says.

A scientist and co-author from The Nature Conservancy says the study is a useful tool to avoid development in locations that are at risk from flooding.

Protecting floodplains, or developing them in ways to withstand flooding, can prevent unnecessary risk to people and help avoid expensive damage to property and infrastructure.

2 – Every dollar spent on reducing energy waste results in more than $4 in savings.

The Michigan Public Service Commission looked at energy waste reduction programs by utilities.

The programs were mandated under a 2016 law. The average electric residential customer pays about $2 a month to fund the programs, which provide assistance for energy efficiency projects.

The Commission found that utility providers spent $263 million on the programs in 2016. The programs will have a lifetime savings of more than $1 billion. That translates to $4.29 in savings for every dollar spent.

Over the long run, energy waste reduction programs in Michigan are expected to reduce the need for new power plants and emissions of environmental pollutants from existing electricity generation.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

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