How to Control Flooding Damage With Creative Solutions
By Barry Stiles
Sea levels are rising at an alarming rate. Coastal areas across the United States face as much as a five-foot rise within the next 80 years. The increased flooding, coastal erosion, infrastructure damage and other effects will cost the world upwards of $14 trillion each year by 2100. Controlling flood damage will come down to creatively designing projects with floods in mind.
Contractors and developers can get creative in managing retained water, directing water away from structures and more. Permeable paving, for example, with pores or cells that allow water to seep through and reach the earth underneath, can replace the hardscapes of solid concrete or asphalt that force water to pool on top. Similarly, urban wetlands — grassy spaces within cities’ more urban regions —give stormwater an escape instead of just a place to sit. And Rotterdam, Netherlands, has combated rising sea levels by designing plazas with gardens and fountains that also serve as water retention ponds.
All of these options emulate nature in their design. Other biomimicry solutions include coastal cities ditching solutions like seawalls in favor of mimicking rocky shores and natural tide pools for more sustainable, effective floodwater management. What you do every day counts, too. Use these strategies to combat flooding for any project:
•Elevate – One of the best ways to avoid a flood is to rise above the water and avoid the flood altogether. If you have the means, consider an elevated project.
• Permeate – Consider permeable paving options to give stormwater an escape instead of trapping it.
• Educate – Engineers, architects, developers and homeowners should all know about flood prevention. If someone with a stake in the project doesn’t know, share your wisdom.
• Secure – When you look over your plans, deepen any retention ponds, add extra security to the perimeters and stabilize sloped surfaces to make sure they won’t erode. Factor in flood prevention within your estimates; it may raise costs, but it won’t be as costly as repairing flood damage.
Dealing with climate change will take all the engineering and architectural ingenuity we can muster. We can lead by example as we work on empowering and encouraging our local governments to embrace new ways of preventing the catastrophic fallout of rising sea levels.
Barry Stiles is the founder and CEO of TRUEGRID Pavers, the 100 percent permeable paving alternative to concrete and asphalt that instantly absorbs stormwater and detains water below the surface. TRUEGRID is a green, permeable Lego-like paver system for the real world, made in the United States from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic and filled with gravel or grass for a natural aesthetic. As an engineer and as a dad, Barry is passionate about TRUEGRID’s mission to provide green paving solutions to build a safer and cleaner environment for our kids. For a complete guide to managing stormwater with permeable paving, download TRUEGRID’s whitepaper.