What are floodplains?
A flodplain is an area next to a river, stream, or creek that may be covered with water following heavy rainstorms. Flooding occurs when an existing stream can't handle the waterflow. The cause of high waterflow varies, but generally comes from high amounts of precipitation, or from snowmelt. The existing channel is overwhelmed, and the water "comes out of bank" to enter what is termed the flood plain. Floodplains hold excess water allowing it to be slowly released into the river system and seep into groundwater aquifers. As well as their importance in providing natural storage for floodwater, floodplains can also provide:
- Fertile agrcultural land
- Valuable habitat for wildlife and plants
- A recreational resource
"Bankfull" is a term that refers to a stream or river that has water at the top of its banks. When a river or stream is "bankfull", a heavy rain event will likely cause water to flow into the floodplain.