Prof. Chris Zevenbergen was interviewed by U.S. Radio Program 'Science Friday' about sponge cities and water management. The story is part of Degrees Of Change, a series that explores the problem of climate change and how we as a planet are adapting to it.
Cities are starting to rethink their water futures and how they can make their communities more resilient. Engineers and architects are looking to nature for inspiration by replacing dams and pipes with green roofs and other green infrastructure. City planners are designing parks based on how the natural ecology of the landscape handled the water. Instead of trying to hold back the floods, they’re welcoming the water and finding ways to turn it into fresh, useable water.
The ‘Sponge Cities’ Of China
In China, more people are leaving the countryside and moving into big cities. Shenzhen in the south has gone from a city of 50,000 people to over 13 million in just three decades. This rapid urbanization has led to more construction, more concrete, and entire landscapes that have been paved over. Mix that with stronger storms driven to climate change, and the stage is set for future water disasters.
To combat this, the Chinese government started the “Sponge Cities” program in 2014, which calls for cities to soak up and reuse 70% of their rainwater.
Journalist Erica Gies and Prof. Chris Zevenbergen, flood risk management expert at IHE Delft, talks about the pedestrian bridges, green roofs and terraced urban landscapes that architects and engineers are designing to build resiliency and what needs to be done to expand these ideas to the rest of the country.
Listen to the interview here.