Caitlin Cunningham is contributing editor for Water & Wastes Digest. For more information, contact WWD at [email protected]
More than just an eyesore, invasive weeds in riparian areas are contributing to aggravated flooding along U.S. waterways, according to many scientists.
Native plant species with dense root systems are natural erosion combatants, and they filter contaminant- and sediment-laden runoff before it enters neighboring water bodies. Healthy riparian land also soaks up rainfall, snowmelt and waterway overflow, alleviating flooding.
Invasive weeds, on the other hand, have less dense roots. When they overrun riparian areas, soil strips away, more sediment can reach waters and the likelihood of flash flooding increases.
With various research groups calling for an increase in severe storm events over the next century, communities need to maximize all their available natural flood defenses, including native vegetation. Identifying, studying and controlling the invasive weeds that threaten this natural flood defense are worthwhile endeavors.
Are invasive weeds a problem in your watershed? Does your organization have a management plan in place? Please share your thoughts, experiences and weed control tips with Water & Wastes Digest at [email protected]