After catastrophic floods in 2012, China made recovering from floods and minimizing their damage a national priority. To achieve that goal, China is creating “sponge cities” – urban areas able to absorb and hold large amounts of excess water and gradually let it back into nature.
Only about a quarter of the rain falling on Chinese cities is absorbed into the ground. The rest falls on roofs and pavements, flooding streets and overflowing drainage systems. It forms pools in cellars, parking lots and grassy spaces. Now, 30 Chinese metropolitan areas are experimenting with manmade lakes, roof gardens, more parks and green spaces, and paving with permeable concrete.
Because inner cities are built up, spongy elements are being tried in outlying areas. More densely settled areas will be converted gradually as old buildings are rehabbed, torn down and replaced.
An added benefit: More greenery improves the quality of city life, particularly by absorbing some of China’s notorious air pollution.
The government has mandated “water resilience,” but leaves it up to individual cities to find the best way to get there – and to pay for it, since Beijing is putting up only about 20 percent of money needed.
TRENDPOST: Cities, particularly along coasts, will be forced to adopt building codes that focus on resilience – not only in confronting heavy water, but heat, drought and other hardships brought on by extreme weather. New businesses and industries are cropping up to meet these demands.