seal  Purdue News

June 11, 2003

Experts can discuss flooding issues


Development could do little to stem flooding

Human activity and development have very little to do with the flooding throughout Indiana, and very little could have been done to stop it, according to Rao S. Govindaraju, a Purdue University civil engineering professor.

Govindaraju said such an atypically large amount of rain has fallen that only extreme measures could have prevented extensive flooding.

"Planned developments must follow regulations that protect them from both normal and larger than normal amounts of rainfall," Govindaraju said. "If they are designed well, they can handle all but the largest amounts of water, like we are experiencing now. This much water will cause flooding even in very well planned areas."

He said only extreme measures can protect an area during a series of storms like Indiana has experienced.

"Rainfall this severe is so rare, it is not economically feasible to prepare for it," Govindaraju said.

CONTACT: Govindaraju, (765) 496-3402,


For flood protection, keep priorities in order

As much of Indiana finds itself with flooding problems after several days of rain, a Purdue University professor says flooding can often be intensified by allowances made for recreation in an area's flood-protection system.

A. Ramachandra Rao, a professor of civil engineering who studies hydrology, said areas can exacerbate problems with rainfall and flooding by not keeping flood protection as a priority for reservoirs, streams and creeks.

"Many areas fill their reservoirs for recreation purposes," Rao said. "This is fine most of the time, but if excess rainfall comes, there is no room for it left in the reservoir, making flooding more likely. There is a battle between drainage concerns and economic and recreational desires, and it is difficult to find a middle ground."

Rao said also said some areas in Indiana can blame inadequate levy systems on the severity of their flooding.

"You should not rely on levies," Rao said. "Engineers everywhere are moving away from levies. If you rely on a system of levies for flood protection, it's not a matter of if the they will break, it’s a matter of when."

CONTACT: Rao, (765) 494-2176,