Poor Stormwater Management Systems and Infrastructure Set Ground for an Environmental Crisis
Stormwater management systems are intended to help control the flow of runoff water in populated areas from impermeable surfaces such as asphalt and concrete, and to combat the negative effects of runoff, flooding and erosion.
Stormwater runoff is caused by precipitation from either rainfall or snowmelt that runs off the surface of the land instead of permeating into the soil. When there is excess runoff, flooding becomes a problem. Where there is flooding, there is loss and damage of property, accelerated erosion of land and unfastened muddy ground.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]The increase of impervious surface has overwhelmed our country’s aging stormwater infrastructure. Infrastructure is made up of roads, highways, sidewalks, parking areas and stormwater management systems are made up of drains, sewers, detention ponds. The United States‘ stormwater mamagement infrastructure has not kept up with the rate of development and population growth and suffers dwindling investment. In 2002, U.S. transportation plummeted from its 5th spot in rankings to twenty-fourth in 2011. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has rated our infrastructure a D or D+ grade in infrastructure since 1998.
Stormwater infrastructure is important for numerous reasons. To name a few, having a strong, reliable infrastructure boosts the economy by creating more jobs and increasing the flow of trade. Better infrastructure creates improved living standards by controlling the flow or runoff water to prevent flooding and spread of disease.
Regardless of having an infrastructure in place, the aging system is giving way to decay and prevents the natural bioremediation process; water’s natural process of filtration, which in time is greatly affecting the environment and climate.In recent news, Louisiana suffered another flood disaster with over two feet of rain falling in the span of 72 hours that required 20,000 people to be rescued and over 10,000 placed in public shelters. President Obama declared it a major disaster in the Gulf Coast region. The area is notorious for dealing with monstrous flooding in the past but this particular storm was not expected to become such a sudden, catastrophic event and it took the region by surprise. Events of this magnitude are known as 100-year or 500-year storms due to the likelihood of it happening once in a century or half millennium.
Southeast Texas has experienced at least 6 major floods in only the past 12 months. This year, April’s Tax Day saw rainfall records of between 10 – 20 inches that should only be seen once in a thousand years. Eight people were killed during that flood and many lost their homes and properties. These storms cost the economy billions of dollars every year. In the southern region of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, there have been more than a dozen massive, flood events since March 2015 and average rainfall is exponentially rising each month. Historical records of monthly rainfall are being repeatedly broken in these states in the span of 18 months. Over time, research on the implications of impervious surfaces shed light on the cause of climate change and current issues such as urban heat island effect and the greenhouse effect.
As a by-product of photosynthesis, vegetation releases moisture back into the atmosphere which cools down surrounding landscapes. The addition of impervious surfaces severely depletes the amount of vegetation and instead soaks the heat of the sun during the day to release back into the environment at night. Night temperatures in cities tend to be as much as 14 degrees hotter than in rural areas, according to research. This is called urban heat island effect and only an addition to the greenhouse effect, which involves greenhouse gases trapping the sun’s radiation in our atmosphere. As water flows over impermeable surfaces, pollutants from car fluids, insecticides, scattered trash, bacteria, and backed up sewage waste are also picked up by this flow. This runoff continues its track and dumps into our lakes, rivers and important bodies of water that we depend on providing communities with drinkable water. Infrastructures with old piping, rusting lead and other contaminants jump on the bandwagon and make it to our homes.
The city of Flint, Michigan, knows all too well the importance of having access to safe, drinkable water to sustain their community. The water in Flint has become so contaminated with lead from its poor infrastructure and stormwater management that bottled water must be shipped directly to the community. This is not the first case of water contamination and will certainly not be the last so long as infrastructure continues to lay in disrepair. The flow of the Mississippi river ends in the Gulf of Mexico. Its long trail runs across the Midwest and dumps contaminants into the gulf which has created one of the largest dead zones in the world. These contaminants include nitrogen and phosphorus from animal waste, sewage, fertilizers and soil erosion which halts the growth of algae in the water. Algae are essential in the food chain and creation of oxygen in water for fish to thrive. Without the presence of algae, these areas of water with little to no oxygen become hypoxic where fish can’t survive to eat, let alone “breathe”. These dead zones greatly impact the ecosystems. To add more, even the economy takes a blow when the seafood industry can’t collect their seasonal product. The same effect can be seen in small bodies of water, such as lakes and ponds, where birds and fish inhabit. Sedimentation and contaminants decrease the amount of aquatic insects many animals depend on for food. Impervious surfaces also destroy habitats and areas of vegetation where animals can create habitats and reproduce. For example, the increase of urbanization directly correlates with the decrease of bee species, a study has found, due to decrease in floral species for pollination and habitat-building purposes.
The spread of urbanized areas, lack of vegetation and water contamination can lead to the endangerment and extinction of animal species.We see what the problem is; we have room for improvement and now we need the tools to solve this issue before things get out of hand.
The current options, asphalt and concrete, are the most common materials to create infrastructure and water management systems but the old methodology needs to be changed when their implications are becoming more and more obvious.
Between the two, asphalt deteriorates faster than concrete but maintenance and repairs can be costly and time-consuming for both. Sediment and trash tends to accumulate quickly in detention ponds and sewer systems. Money and time must then be spent to periodically clean these systems to prevent further clogging and contamination. This method may sound new but it has been around for centuries. It was first seen in Europe in the 1800s but wasn’t introduced to the United States until the 1960s to reduce flooding and replenish aquifers. The idea of sustainability has grown more and more in recent years with the tangible threats the negative effects of climate change has over our heads.
Permeable pavement can come in different forms such as pervious concrete, paving grids and plastic grid pavers. These systems are permeable to varying degrees and have different rates of long term efficiency and maintaining porosity. Water is able to filter through these pavement systems, reducing flooding, making them environmentally friendly.
Some permeable pavement methods are more expensive than others and require more installation time. Paving grids are blocks of cement that are strategically placed on the ground with a small space between each block for water to seep in. This method takes up time and tends to cost more than concrete due to its specifically placed installation. These interlocking plastic grids are placed on top of a 4” – 6” layer of permeable rock, such as limestone and granite. This layer of granite or limestone creates a detention area underneath the grid for water to go to, to avoid flooding on top. The plastic grids are then filled with gravel within the grooves to hold the system in place. This system allows water to seep back into the ground and mimics the natural process of filtration water goes through when percolating through rocks that pulls out pollutants. The detention area holds naturally occurring bacteria that consume the remains of these pollutants.
This system cuts out or reduces the need for detention ponds, which is added cost to large projects, and alleviates the pressure sewage systems have when it rains. The underground detention in the rock requires little or no maintenance and saves land. The amount of flooding is cut dramatically, stormwater systems and bodies of waters are less likely to be contaminated, the ground is stabilized and kept from accelerated erosion and natural habitats can coexist with these systems and thrive. Choosing this sustainable solution, cities benefit by saving money on building, maintenance and energy costs while saving land that can be used for green space and/or revenue generation. These paving grids can also be used as grass pavers to stabilize the ground and preserve vegetation that will help with heat island effect and beautify urban areas.
Cities can thrive and also co-exist with nature letting water go through its natural filtration process, bio-remediation, and having low impact on the environment which in turn will create a better world for future generations, literally. Fortunately, plastic paving grids are low cost and efficient and can fit the needs of homeowners and small businesses. These paving grids can be used for almost anything, such as driveways, parking lots, walkways, and gravel stabilizer.
Permeable pavement is not only beneficial to the environment and your community but also to your pocket. The value of your property goes up when you install permeable pavement to your property due to your home’s low risk of flooding. Gravel or grass filled plastic paving grids also help surrounding land cool down and in the long run can save you money on energy bills.
Not only that, you would be a part of the solution and setting an example for others to follow will help others consider making better, sustainable choices in their everyday life.You’ve already begun that process! Having the interest to solve current environmental issues pushes you to ask questions and find answers.
Here are some options you can take to take you to the next step:
– Research available alternative options
– Find others who are advocates of environmental change and ask them how they are sustainable.
– Locate sites that have alternative pavement to see proven alternative methods first-hand.
– Study available products online and compare.
– Set your budget and reach out to people who can help you with the purchasing and installing process.
– Most importantly, let others in your community know about these sustainable solutions and how to be a part of this movement.
Now you can start being an advocate for environmental change!
Opening the doors to environmentally-friendly pavements, a grass paver system uses concrete or asphalt to mold beautiful driveways, fire lanes or parking areas. Considered both visually appealing and easy-to-use, it’s no wonder the grass paver system comes highly recommended by so many businesses.
How Does It Work?
First, a plastic grid system lays on top of the soil or prepared substrate. It is then filled with soil, grass seed or sod to create a strong surface for parking or driving, while also protecting the root system of the grass and allowing it to grow naturally. The resulting area looks like a normal lawn, and can be maintained with standard lawn equipment.
A grass paver system has many benefits over standard parking surfaces to make your driveway, parking lot or other pavement into a blended work of art with your lawn.
It Offers More Versatility
A grass paver system can have multiple uses, including driveways, fire lanes, roads, parking areas and walkways. Here are a few examples:
- A hidden driveway that is indistinguishable from the lawn;
- Extra parking spots for family and friends on special occasions;
- A secondary driveway leading to a garage or utility building;
- Parking area for a small business;
- Auxiliary parking for fairgrounds, concert halls and other locations that looks like a lawn when it is not used;
- Fire lanes for commercial buildings that discourage parking by resembling grassy areas;
- Roadways for golf carts and off-road vehicles; and
- Parking spots for recreational vehicles or camping trailers.
A grass paver creates a visually appealing parking area or driveway that blends in with the surrounding lawn and other natural features, while providing a strong surface that protects the underlying grass. Asphalt or concrete parking surfaces can look unattractive, and if they are only used temporarily, they are a waste of space that could be used to grow natural grass.
It Has Higher Strength
A grass paver system uses interlocking grids that distribute the weight of vehicles and other loads evenly over the underlying surface. This gives the pavers an incredibly high compression strength, up to 8000 PSI, when filled. Even when they are empty, they have up to a 6800 PSI compression strength. This allows them to be driven on by vehicles, including large trucks, without damaging the grass or deforming the soil.
A grass paver system can provide a durable surface that is nearly as strong as concrete or asphalt surfaces, while being much more attractive – especially in rural or suburban areas.
It’s Easy to Install
Asphalt or concrete surfaces require expensive specialty equipment and plenty of labor for the installation process. The grass paver system is much easier to install, and requires much less labor and equipment.
For a permanent installation, the land is cleared of vegetation, graded to create a level and flat surface. Then rock, gravel or limestone are brought in to create a strong, permeable subsurface layer. The grass paver system is then installed over the top of the subsurface.
The grass paver grids come in large sections – up to two feet square – which are lightweight. They also feature a built-in interlock system to secure them to adjacent grids. They can be easily carried by one person and cover a large area quickly.
Once the entire grid is laid down and trimmed to fit around obstacles, the grids can be filled with soil by hand or with heavy equipment, such as a backhoe. Once the soil has been compacted into the grid, it can be seeded with the preferred variety of grass. Alternatively, rolls of sod can be laid over the empty grid and pressed into place
It Has Better Storm Water Management
Since a grass paver system uses soil or loose fill materials, it is permeable to rain water. During bad weather, the water soaks through the surface, rather than pooling, in low-lying areas unlike it would on concrete or asphalt. In concrete or asphalt, the pooling can cause it to flood, so a merging drainage system must be installed to help prevent flooding.
Not only do grass pavers reduce flooding and erosion near the parking area, but they also allows rainwater to return to the local aquifers naturally, filtering out pollutants left on the surface. With concrete and asphalt surfaces, the water and any pollutants carried with it, must be diverted into a drain system that connects to a municipal wastewater system or a retention pond. Building such a system is expensive, and the water must be treated before it can be used for other purposes.
It Gives You Sustainability
Concrete and asphalt require large amounts of energy to produce and install. In addition, they often use materials that are not environmentally-friendly, such as the petroleum products, and to bind together the asphalt.
Grass paver systems are made from recycled plastics containing large percentages of post-consumer content. Therefore, these systems can easily be recycled at the end of their lifecycle.
Additionally, grass pavers are lightweight and inexpensive to ship, and because the heavy fill materials are acquired locally, they use much less energy to transport than concrete or asphalt.
The grass paver system also helps to safeguard the water supply by returning rainwater to the local aquifer and, in urban areas, it does not contribute to the heat island effect – which increases the energy used for air conditioning during warm weather.
Grass Pavers – A Future of Beautiful, Eco-Friendly Pavements
Combined, these features make the grass paver much more sustainable and environmentally-friendly than either concrete or asphalt.
A grass paver system can be a cost-effective way to create parking areas, roadways or driveways that are both attractive and durable. The entire system can be installed in a matter of days, at half the cost of concrete, and requires less specialized equipment and labor. It is also sustainable, and can help a project qualify for LEED certification.
Grass driveways and grass pavers, in general, are growing in popularity – pun intended – and at first impression, you would think it’s for aesthetic reasons alone.
However, there is more to grass pavers than just the additional beauty of nature. To name a few, you have increased drainage and erosion control while maintaining a low impact on the environment. They can be used to create grass driveways, as grass stabilizers for front lawns and backyards, as ground stabilizers for mud control and for added detention area underneath the ground.
For years, concrete and asphalt have been the go-to material for paved surfaces, from driveways to highways, and its strength and low cost sums up the reasons as to why this is true. Homeowners typically use concrete for their driveways and sidewalks and don’t realize that better alternatives are stock piled with added benefits.
Sometimes traditions need to be broken.
Concrete can make homes look barren and it tends to dull things out. There is less space for vegetation and shrubbery to flourish. Studies show that exposure to plants is beneficial to your health and well-being, increasing mental focus and reducing stress, which means concrete is depriving you of those benefits.Concrete installation takes time, coordination and a perfect environment. Even when the concrete is laid and spread, you sometimes have to wait days to use the surface.
Plastic permeable pavers are ready to use immediately after installation, and can even be driven on before the installation is even finished. Adding more concrete to an area takes away the beauty of nature but grass pavers allows you to keep vegetation and more. Not only can grass grow through the plastic pavers, you can also cut the grid to wrap around trees and bigger plants that can’t be replanted. You also get to add more vegetation but also save living plants. No need to risk your 80-year-old live oak.
Despite the common notion that concrete requires little maintenance after installation, concrete stains over time. Oil leaked from cars, dirt dragged across the driveway, spray paint marks from your experimental crafts and other mishaps eventually start staining the concrete. To remove stains, only pressure washing and scrubbing can remedy the situation. Some stains are almost impossible to get out without a special stain remover, further polluting your neighborhood. When concrete cracks, resurfacing is not an option. Concrete tends to crack over time no matter how properly installed due to heat expansion, root growth, and terrain movement, and to fix it you need to tear the concrete out and start all over again.
Grass pavers are environmentally friendly and allow stormwater runoff to drain back into the ground where it naturally filters out pollutants and rehydrates the earth and vegetation. These permeable systems also incorporate a sub-base, usually 3 – 6 inches deep, that detains water and offsets the negative effects of flooding. Having property that better deals with flooding also racks up the value of your property. After rainfall, the ground becomes saturated with stormwater and lawns become muddy and rutting out the area, creating a treacherous obstacle between you and your car.
Muddy lawns can be a nightmare but grass pavers stabilize the entire surface of your lawn even during a major storm. By providing a layer of solid and level ground for grass to hold onto, flooding won’t cause as much damage. A plastic grid system of permeable pavers also prevents rutting and maintains stability even against heavy rain. Furthermore, if you have furry critters running around, it also can keep them from getting down and dirty in the mud and diggers won’t stand a chance.
The installation of grass pavement is so easy, it’s almost unfair (no actually it’s totally fair. It’s designed to be easy). The plastic grids interlock like modular building blocks and are slapped on top of a sub-base of 5/8” angular rock for support and detention. Depending on how deep your layer of sub base is, you can get thousands of cubic gallons of added detention space on your property. You will love it, and your municipal government will too. You may even qualify for tax benefits for pervious cover.
Once laid down, interlocked and filled, the pavement is ready to go. That’s it. Concrete, on the other hand, must go through a chemical process after being poured that takes up to a week, depending on weather conditions.
To take care of your grass driveway, all you need to do is cut and water the grass as you would with any other lawn. You may even find yourself needing to water less often. As water permeates the surface, surrounding plants will do what they naturally do and drink it up, reducing the amount of water you need to feed them. This of course depends on how often and how much it rains in your area.
Grass pavers are virtually maintenance-free and if there is any small issue, repairing it is as quick as disconnecting the grid, fixing any sub-terrain issue and replacing the grid.
How to Make a Grass Driveway
- Ensure your location is safe to dig in. Call a utility locating service.
- From street grade level, start digging down about 6 inches in your outlined area, depending on expected load and drainage needs. For drainage needs, spend some time figuring out the slope of your ground and how much detention area you want underneath the grass paver system. Consider the fact that a shorter sub-base means less detention area to hold water.
- Flatten down the soil with a tamper to ensure stability.
- Here is when we start creating the sub-base. Depending on your expected load and drainage needs, lay down 3 – 6 inches of ¾ inch crushed stone, preferably pervious stone such as limestone or granite. Compact this layer with your tamper for a solid foundation.
- Start from the bottom of your driveway and start placing the grid about an inch below street level. Cover the entire area with the grid and snap the pieces together. Do not cut pieces to fit into odd shapes until the grid is completely laid down.
- Once the grid is completely connected and laid down, fill in the hollow space of the grid with loam and smooth it out with a rake or push broom.
- To fit the grid in organically-shaped areas, outline trim marks on the plastic paver to cut with a reciprocating saw and attach it to the rest of the grid.
- To help compact the soil, water the grid system down.
- After you’ve completed all the previous steps, you can now place down your choice of sod across the grid. If you want to choose another type of grass, you can opt to plant grass seed instead. Keep the area watered until the grass begins to sprout.
Click here to view our Step-By-Step installation guides.
Let Your Creative Juices Flow
Laying down a grass driveway was probably a lot easier than you expected. Too easy you may want a little bit of challenge. Take on a new challenge by creating a beautiful landscape to go with your grass driveway. You can also turn your backyard into a grass pavement for added benefits.
- Make an Entrance – Create a rustic look with a white gate and white picket fence for guests to feel right at home before stepping onto your doorstep.
- Stone or Gravel Walkway – Establish a walking path in your grass driveway for a more padded ground. Sprinkle gravel into the grass paver grid or use plastic pavers engineered for stone tile insertion. Completely customizable with your choice of rock, color and shape.
- Floral Walkway – Flowers add color and vibrancy to absolutely anything. Decorate your entrance and pathways with your favorite flowers and coordinate the colors to your liking.
- Garden Courtyard with a Path – Choosing the location of your garden is up to you. Whether out front or in your backyard, build a magnificent garden courtyard with a winding path you can customize yourself. Get creative and fill in the grid with gravel and design a unique path for visitors of your garden to discover.
Maintenance of grass driveways is virtually absent but it does require occasional checkups. Always do monthly inspections of your lawn and grass driveway during the first few months after installation and then once a year. If you need to make a repair, just disconnect the damaged part of the grid and lay down new pieces as a replacement.
Battle at our Shores: Impacts of Coastal Flooding
What is now happening in the U.S. foreshadows a daunting future in the next century. Thousands, if not possibly millions, of residents will be at risk of displacement, barely escaping their flooded homes that have submerged into the towering sea. Destruction of businesses and homes will become detrimental to communities and could affect local and national economies. To lessen this potential catastrophe, we must rethink how our impact today greatly affects the forces of nature.
The Measure of Our Economic Success
Any civilization’s success depends greatly on its access to coastal regions and large bodies of water. The Ancient Egyptians flourished into a marvelous civilization on the banks of the Nile River Delta, a triangular area where the many arms of the Nile dumped into the sea in Northeast Africa.
There are countless reasons why this truth remains relevant even during times of technological advancement that the Egyptians could only dream of. Along the coast, typically in ports, imported and exported goods are exchanged between nations. The biggest ports in the U.S. in New York and California both account for 14 million TEUs of cargo in 2013. One TEU is the carrying capacity of a 20-foot-by-8-foot shipping container. A large portion of our ocean economy depends on offshore and open ocean harvesting of wild fish and shellfish. According to the NOEP, ocean economy accounts for 2.6 million jobs and approximately 4.4 percent of the total GDP in America. Two other important portions of the coastal economy include tourism, recreation and mineral extractions, such as oil and natural gas drilling, that also powerfully influence business and jobs.
It’s no surprise some of the highest populated cities lie on the coast and are continuously growing. South Carolina has three of the fastest growing cities in the nation and together they have added 155,564 more residents since 2010. Out of those three cities, Charleston accounts for more than half of that number.
Despite having economic benefits for real estate and business, accelerated population growth can challenge a city’s infrastructure as it becomes hard to keep pace. A challenged infrastructure doesn’t have what it takes to offset flooding and residents may rethink their current situation.
The Study that was Heard Around the World
A recently published story stated that about 13.1 million people in the coastal region of the U.S. will be at risk of flooding by the year 2100 if sea level rises six feet in the next century.
Ice caps are melting at an alarming rate in the North and South Pole due to steadily rising global temperatures. Recently, a video surfaced capturing a chunk of ice the size of Manhattan breaking off Antarctica and plunging into the sea.
The magnitude of this event happens regularly but it’s rarely seen in person, let alone caught on film. Being able to watch these events helps people visualize the rate the ice caps are melting and that it is steadfast increasing. At this rate, we can see first-hand the consequences of climate change.
‘Sunny-day Flooding’ isn’t All Rainbows
Around the eastern and southern coasts of the U.S., countless thousands are experiencing “sunny-day flooding”, or tidal flooding, which occurs without a storm present. These tidal surges typically equate one to two feet of stormwater but cause major disruption of main roads and bridges, inundate basements and homes, damages property, and poison wells and groundwater with salt.
One of the fastest growing cities, Charleston, is not guarded against these oncoming ocean surges. In 2015, Charleston experienced such intense tidal flooding; it was compared to the catastrophic flooding from a “1,000-year” storm that hit earlier in the month of October. The only difference between the two was the presence of an actual hurricane and just extreme tidal fluctuations in sea-level.
Off the coast of Georgia, the only access road to the Tybee Island is slowly disappearing into the ocean. During different times of the year, the road is completely inundated or partially flooded and markers have been placed on the sides of the road for drivers to make an informed decision if the road is worth driving through.
In Wilmington, N.C., an area where major flooding isn’t common, the amount of minor flooding has tripled since the 1990s from 9 to 26 incidents per year. It is predicted that by 2045, sea level will rise 12 inches for Wilmington and the nuisance of flooding events will be a near every day occurrence.
In Miami-Dade County, Fla., these events are requiring the city to spend millions combating the rising tide and forced to send vacuum trucks to clear the roads of saltwater. Even if a tidal flooding event is minimal, the movement of one to two feet of water further inland can contaminate sources of groundwater with salt and put at risk the supply of drinkable water. Local taxes and fees have increased to finance a $400 million plan to improve infrastructure due to citizens pressuring local government to make a move.
Bracing for the Storms Ahead
Despite causing property damage and disruption, minor flooding alone isn’t a catastrophe but it can be a huge weakness for the coast when heavy storms and natural disasters have the potential of occurring so frequently and with such intensity. Louisiana is another city threatened by coastal flooding and sinking, or subsiding land. Recently, a rare phenomenon occurred when a 100-year storm simply stopped moving directly over the city, dumping 2 feet of rain in a 72-hour span. Thousands of homes were flooded and president Barack Obama declared it a natural disaster.
“Sunny-day flooding” alone isn’t deadly but when lands are sinking and sea levels are rising, phenomenon such as the recent flooding in Louisiana will be more frequent and disastrous.
The Money Pit of all Money Pits
Most cities that have suffered a national disaster get funding from both the federal government and flood insurance companies to rebuild. Disaster-relief and temporary solutions have created a money hole where funding is dumped into efforts to rebuild in the same area that is at high-risk of another natural disaster.
Each natural disaster can be estimated to cost about $1 billion in funds spent on disaster relief. In the 1980s, an average of two natural disasters occurred each year in the U.S. and has since increased to 10 disasters per year. Climate patterns are heavily shifting, such as heat waves, heavy rain and drought, and are exasperating natural disasters causing them to occur more often. With a growing population, the effects of climate change in weather and sea level, and people still living or moving to high-risk cities, natural disaster funding will only increase exponentially.
When rebuilding, a great deal needs to be taken into consideration: how can we improve the city to better combat future disasters, are these methods efficient and long-lasting, and how much will it cost to be maintained regularly.
Much of the new construction is built to withstand a 100-year or 500-year storm, which has a rare chance of happening, but when these oddities are becoming more frequent and our coasts are disappearing under water, these new constructions become ineffectual.
National Defense at Risk of Sea Level Invasion
Our national defense stands at risk of defeat from flooding. U.S. Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval base, has asked for the federal government to not just build floodgates to protect coastal bases but to also create extensive climate change tactics to battle the rising waters in the long-run.
Unfortunately, the Pentagon’s efforts to guard one of the nation’s major defenses have been met with resistance from Congress. Around the world, tidal floods are invading land despite coastal flooding being a national issue, the phenomenon is occurring in many parts of the world that have become detrimental.
Inupiat Eskimo villages in Shishmaref, Alaska have been at risk for decades of completely losing their homes as water creeps inland, slowly destroying their land. Now, the city is expected to be submerged in the next three decades. Faced with the inevitable, the Inupiat voted and made the difficult decision to relocate. They are not alone. The Inupiat is one of at least 31 Alaska Native villages that are currently at risk are facing the same difficult decision.
Out in the Pacific Ocean, north of Australia, the Marshall Islands house 72, 191 people are at risk of becoming “climate change refugees”. Due to the restricted amount of available land on these islands, moving inland away from tidal flooding is not a choice for them. The accelerated rise in sea level threatens to destroy homes and contaminate their drinkable water, which could leave them stranded, at risk of dehydration and with nowhere to go.
We Must Weigh Our Options
Apart from the considerations around construction, most importantly is the need for residents to be proactive in helping combat flooding by fully understanding that funding is needed for construction costs and maintenance.
Twice now the residents of New Orleans have voted against raising taxes to help fund the maintenance costs of their new flood gate, built after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region. Without proper funding, this billion-dollar construction won’t be effective and save 900,000 people from another disaster such as Katrina. The city remains in high-risk of another natural disaster
The rise of natural disaster occurrences is proven to be costly and efforts to strategically spend millions in the battle against rising sea levels is critical. bInstead of working against the forces of nature, we should embrace and work along those forces.
We instead should create natural solutions.
1. Embracing the Flow of Water
Our traditional methods of reducing flooding risk involve the use of impermeable infrastructures to completely stop or guide the flow of water into controlled structures. Floodplain restoration projects introduce a different approach to controlled flooding. Instead of setting up dams and detention areas to hold back the flow of water with impermeable material, this method encourages restoring water’s natural tendency of flowing into floodplains. Allowing this flow to occur restores wetlands and habitats in the floodplain and whenever there is flooding, the flow goes to an area that benefits from the influx of water.
2. Shape Legislation to Advocate for Natural Solutions
For these methods to find their way into society, federal, state, and local legislation needs to shift to promote natural solutions versus traditional solutions, such as impervious infrastructure. An incentive for legislation to use these natural solutions is the low cost that makes it more affordable for communities and have a better impact on the environment, which in turn creates better investments. Legislation needs to shape an integrated approach of solving the issue at a larger scale to invest into long lasting solutions.
3. Adding natural solutions to the list of low-risk solutions incentivizes people to adopt these alternatives to save money in the long run. Creating an area that better withstands flooding with permeable pavements or a nearby floodplain to offset the flow of water.