UK Environment Chair: Build Floating Houses to Reduce Flood Damage

The chairman of the United Kingdom's Environment Agency thinks he has the solution to the problem of homes being damaged and destroyed by floods in his country: start building homes that can float on top of the rising water.

Lord Chris Smith proposed the idea of building houses that could float on top of floodwaters in response to the idea that the United Kingdom should pass an outright ban on building in flood-prone areas of the country. "There's just so much of the country where that's an impractical restriction," says Smith.

The idea isn't far-fetched.

UK Environment Chair: Build Floating Houses to Reduce Flood Damage

The Netherlands is famous for their flood-protection technologies. Much of the country lies at or below sea level and, as such, it requires an extensive system of dikes to prevent the countryside from flooding. The BBC reports that a Dutch company called Dura Vermeer has designed and built several homes that can rise with rising floodwater.

The system has also been put into place in the United States. Back in 2009, the first "FLOAT House" made its debut in New Orleans as part of the reconstruction effort after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005.

The idea of building homes that could float on top of floodwaters could be useful to parts of the United States that are susceptible to flooding, including areas along the Gulf Coast or cities along the Mississippi River. Entertaining the idea of solutions like floating homes might not be such a bad idea — with rising sea levels and the opportunity for more flooding rain events, the annual cost of flood damage to coastal areas around the world could reach $60 billion per year by 2050.

[Images via AP and BBC]