Flood control has been directed to restoring vegetation and instituting efficient methods of soil management, such as crop rotation and contour plowing. This comes in an effort to assuage flood risks stemming from centuries of people cutting down trees and digging up the vegetable cover of the soil, thus increasing soil erosion. Cultivation decreases the ability of the soil to retain water and increases runoff. Vast land areas along the headwaters of rivers throughout the world have been laid waste by intensive cultivation and subsequent erosion.
Constructing floodways on the lower reaches of rivers to divert floodwaters is another means of flood control. Widening the rivers and allowing them to overflow at certain confined areas prevents the flooding of other areas.
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