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How Are Levees Beneficial To Human Settlement

How Are Levees Beneficial To Human Settlement? Taming Nature 

You are reading the right article if you want to know how are levees beneficial to human settlement. 

Humans constantly battle nature, trying to control or change it. Levees are one of the soldiers in this war; sometimes, Mother Nature even creates them for us.

New settlements often need good ways of managing the elements, especially water, to allow for proper growth. 

There are many ways of managing water, be it rivers, floods, lakes, or seas, and levees are the most common. Let us get into the details and find out more;

How Are Levees Beneficial To Human Settlement?

New settlements need favorable weather and the right amount of water to thrive, so most build levees. 

They are most common in areas with rivers and heavy rains, so what benefits do they offer? Let us take a closer look and find out;

  • Protecting the settlement from flood waters. When floodwaters do not reach the intended flood level, levees and floodwalls successfully protect structures and the surrounding environment from flooding. 

This is an essential barrier against flooding, protecting lives, livestock, and vegetation crucial for new settlements.

  • Protecting settlement structures. Levees control flood waters and limit the pressure they exert on nearby structures. This reduces the risk of damage and makes for an easier time creating a sustainable settlement. 
  • They are an affordable choice for protecting the settlement. Creating a settlement is expensive, so you need affordable ways of making things happen, and levees offer this. 

Compared to more intrusive flood mitigation methods like elevating or relocating structures, levees and floodwalls are often more cost-effective to implement initially.

  • They have the least impact on the environment. During the construction or installation of levees, tenants or occupants typically do not need to evacuate the structure, ensuring continuity in daily activities. 

Levees will not obstruct the flow of a river or jeopardize the lives of the organisms in it. It is a passive measure that helps both humans and nature.

What Are Levees

Water is life, and no organism can survive without water, but it is also the most potent element in nature. 

Water can destroy entire cities and drown thousands if there is a big enough flood, so humans ensure this doesn’t happen through Levees. 

A levee is a natural or man-made wall that prevents water from flowing in places we don’t want it to. Levees can be used to enhance accessible land for settlement or to redirect a body of water so that fertile river or seabed soil can be used for agriculture. 

They keep rivers from flooding cities during a storm. However, if a levee fails, the results can be severe. 

Levees are often constructed of earth. Natural water movement pushes silt to the side, forming a natural levee. River banks are frequently somewhat elevated above the riverbed. 

Levees are formed by the banks, which are made of sediment, silt, and other materials forced aside by the rushing water. Levees are usually parallel to the river’s flow; therefore, they can help direct the river’s flow.

Levees can also be built or reinforced artificially. Artificial levees are often constructed by stacking soil, sand, or pebbles on a flat, cleared area. Levees can also be formed of wood, plastic, or metal blocks in areas where the flow of a river is high. 

You may strengthen levees with concrete; here, the region adjacent to a river or other body of water is particularly vulnerable. Levees have been built and reinforced since the dawn of humanity. 

The Indus Valley Civilization, which included major sites in Mohenjo Daro and Harappa, Pakistan, used levees to fortify land near the Indus River as early as 2500 B.C.E. Farmers could cultivate crops such as cotton and rice.

In addition to providing living space and agriculture, Levees can provide some security against intruders. Levees can create a river that functions like a moat, stopping people from simply conquering territory on the other side. 

Invading forces can also be stopped by destroying levees. In 1938, Chinese leaders purposefully breached the Yellow River levees to prevent the Japanese military from advancing. The following deluge killed over 500,000 Japanese and Chinese people.

Artificial levees must need reinforcement. They must withstand erosion, or wearing away, caused by adjacent water. 

Trees and plants such as Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) are sometimes planted near levees to help stabilize the soil. 

Engineers must maintain levees by performing structural work to fortify the boundaries. You can use sandbags to build makeshift levees in an emergency. These absorb water and usually prevent extra moisture from passing through the sand.

Artificial levees prevent flooding. However, they introduce a new issue: levees restrict river flow. All of the river’s power is being channeled through a smaller area. Water levels are higher, and water flows more quickly. 

This increases the pressure on downstream levees and makes water control a more significant challenge. When levees fail, it makes it more difficult to confine the flood.

Since the 18th century, levees have kept the Mississippi River from flooding Louisiana and other adjacent states. 

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Louisiana, in 2005, the levees could not resist the storm surge. The levees failed, flooding 80 percent of the city.

Levees on The Sea

Levees are primarily for rivers, but their concept makes them usable for seas. Many countries have built sea walls and Levees on seas and oceans to use adjacent land for farming or construction.

The Netherlands has a complex system of dikes, levees, and dams to keep the North Sea at bay. Land for farming, industries, and residential usage has been built from ocean floor land.

The Bay of Fundy, which borders the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, has one of the world’s highest tidal ranges. In certain spots, the tidal range exceeds 17 meters (55 feet). 

Canada has built levees around areas of the Bay of Fundy to make the best use of land that could have been flooded during high tide.

What Are The Potential Disadvantages of Levees? 

Levees are amazing and offer numerous advantages, but they are not without potential risks. The basis of their creation is to safeguard riverbanks while allowing nature to exist on its terms, but sometimes they create problems. 

1. Impact on Floodplain Development: In some cases, levees may disregard floodplain development standards, especially in floodway areas, by altering natural water flow patterns. 

Their presence often increases the water pressure at specific points, which leads to increased flood risks downstream or causing blocked waterways. Most dams and levees downstream will need to be stronger to manage water because of levees.

2. They have a high risk of failing. Failure or cresting of a levee or floodwall can cause substantial damage, sometimes similar to having no barrier or worse.

3. It restricts access to specific constructions. Levees may limit access to the protected structure, and if human action is necessary for closures, adequate warning time must be provided, potentially causing problems.

4. Depending on the location, they can be costly to produce. Levee construction and upkeep can be expensive, including fees for land acquisition, materials, and continuing maintenance.

5. The vulnerability of their bases increases the risk of their utilization. Even when protected by levees, structures with basements may still be vulnerable to damage from groundwater-generated hydrostatic pressure.

6. Levees affect local drainage systems. Levees can disrupt local drainage patterns, generating water problems for nearby properties and communities.

7. They require interior drainage systems. To prevent water accumulation within the protected structure, adequate internal drainage systems must be supplied. Too much water within them could increase erosion rates and add the risk of collapse and topping. 

8. To be effective, levees for large rivers will require larger land masses. Levees frequently necessitate large land tracts for development and upkeep, which may be impractical in heavily inhabited or developed locations.

9. Because of erosion, they require ongoing upkeep. To ensure their effectiveness, levees require frequent maintenance and repair, which adds to the long-term expenses and resource requirements.

10. They don’t affect insurance premiums. The presence of levees does not ensure a reduction in flood insurance rates, which may remain high due to the inherent hazards of flood protection.

11. In most circumstances, they do not remove the necessity for evacuations. While levees lessen flood hazards, they do not eliminate the need for evacuation during severe floods. 

This is because there is still a chance of failure or overtopping in catastrophic situations, which defeats the purpose of creating them in the first place. This is primarily a concern in large rivers that experience heavy and sudden rains.


You have a clear answer if you were wondering, “How are levees beneficial to human settlements?” 

Levees are a fantastic part of flood water control, and they have evolved into magnificent sea walls that have helped nations in land reclamation.

They are mostly nature-friendly and affordable but can have the opposite effect on large scales. Levees can increase river water pressure, making the water harder to manage downstream. For this reason, there are always newer findings to make the idea safer.

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