Water Urbanism

The Natural Environment by itself functions perfectly till we: i.e. ‘me’, ‘you’; the humans interact with it. All the major civilizations started near water resources. It was co-existence. But it has been a very long time since then. Today we are urbanized. Concrete dominates city life: buildings, streets, roads, open spaces too! Natural topographies are manipulated for development. Since transportation provides us the facility to be far away from the edges of water (complete opposite of civilization start!) we have come up with quick fixes that are smaller versions: reservoirs, ponds, lakes etc All of the above are factors contributing to higher storm water run-off. This sets up a chain of problems – higher velocity equals to no percolation within ground which equals insufficient ground water recharge; higher velocity means no time for filtering dust, dirt, debris so that equals water pollution; higher velocity destroys the riparian buffer. Problems of storm water run-off coupled with sources of pollution and system leaks calls for water quality management.

So how are we dealing with it? If we just talk about storm water management – controlling floods is a huge goal. This is addressed probably at a town/municipal/city level? The more low scale neighbourhood, community approaches are Rainwater Harvesting, Rain Gardens, Green streets and urban tree canopies. Permeable pavements are a great way of addressing storm water run-off and also adds character/distinct look to a street. Green parking is yet another innovative way that accommodates water management keeping the necessary evil of parking alongside. I think personally the idea of rain gardens and bioswales interests me. It provides a possibility of a local, green ecosystem in a neighbourhood along the end of a street – effective in water management but also adding to the urban ecology.

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