Farming and Development May Have Worsened Midwest Flooding

The massive flooding that has inundated much of Iowa and many parts of the midwestern United States may have been caused, in part, by changing farming patterns and increased development, scientists say. The Washington Post reports that scientists in Iowa are concerned that a host of land use changes in recent decades may be a major reason behind the flooding. These include replacing tallgrass prairie with plowed fields, draining fields into streams with underground pipes, straightening streams and creeks, destroying wetlands, and building homes in floodplains. Taken together, these changes have significantly reduced the land’s ability to absorb heavy rains, leading to vast amounts of rainwater running directly into streams, creeks, and rivers.