A floodplain is the area along the edges of a stream or river that regularly floods with water during heavy rains or other flooding events. When left undisturbed, floodplains are able to absorb a certain amount of water that slowly seeps into the ground or is returned to the river as water levels drop, thereby buffering areas downstream from even more severe floods. Building on floodplains is problematic – not only because buildings and other structures will be damaged by flood water, but because covering the ground with pavement and other impervious surfaces eliminates the ability of the ground to soak up water. Floodplains also provide important habitat for many plant and animal species, so building there is damaging to natural ecosystems as well. By researching the extent of nearby floodplains and keeping development away from the edges of streams, developers can help ensure that human communities and natural waterways exist together peaceably.
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