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Mitigating Flooding With End-Use Compost

As the world grapples with the escalating challenge of climate change, communities are increasingly vulnerable to the devastating effects of flooding. In the search for sustainable solutions, composting stands out thanks to its exceptional ability to retain water and stabilize soil.


Tree erosion

The Role of Compost in Retaining Water

Compost-based best management practices (BMPs) are a cornerstone of resilient infrastructure that can equitably combat the impacts of climate change. Compost enriches the soil with organic matter and carbon, significantly increasing its water-holding capacity. This natural characteristic allows the soil to retain moisture during droughts and reduce the need for irrigation. When heavy rains fall, compost-amended soil has an increased ability to absorb and infiltrate rainfall, reducing stormwater runoff and associated erosion​.


Flooded street

The Role of Compost in Ecosystem Resilience and Restoration of Natural Cycles

Healthy watersheds depend on balanced natural cycles—water, carbon and nutrient cycles. Urbanization disrupts these cycles, but compost-based best management practices can offer a remedy. Compost restore the water-soil cycle by supporting natural water absorption, infiltration, and evaporation rates - all of which are essential for replenishing surface and groundwater. Additionally, by diverting organic waste from landfill, composting prevents methane emissions and contributes to carbon sequestration, restoring the carbon cycle. Compost can even stabilize nitrogen, prevent water pollution, and promote healthier plant communities, all critical for ecological succession and resilience.


Impact of Composting on Reducing Runoff and Erosion

Studies have shown that compost absorbs up to 80% of 10cm of rainfall, reducing runoff production by up to 97%. Compost can also reduce the most damaging stormwater peak flows by up to 51%. Reductions in runoff and peak flow are critical to mitigating flood risk and soil erosion, especially in areas prone to high-intensity storm events​.


Eroded cliff

Applications of Compost in Soil Stabilization and Flood Control

Compost is invaluable in stabilizing soil in the face of flooding. By enhancing soil structure and fertility, compost supports plant life and soil organisms, holding the soil in place and minimizing erosion. This is critical for stabilizing slopes and preventing landslides or debris flows after heavy rainfall.


While various flood protection measures can be taken, the use of compost is one of the most sustainable and cost-effective. It provides a natural solution that solves immediate flooding problems and contributes to long-term environmental benefits and climate change mitigation efforts​ that are creating the flood risks in the first place.


Flooded neighborhood

In Conclusion

The frequency and severity of flood events require innovative and sustainable mitigation strategies. Compost effectively addresses these challenges thanks to its multifunctional role in water management, soil stabilization and ecological restoration. By integrating compost into flood prevention efforts, we can strengthen our defenses against rising tides while nurturing the health of our environment.


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