February 2013: Rising Tides

Rising Tides: East Coast, West Coast and the Dutch Approach

Going with the Flow

“In lieu of flood control the new philosophy in the Netherlands is controlled flooding,” reports Michael Kimmelman in a recent New York Times article.

Kimmelman looks to the Dutch example of water management for lessons that might be useful in New York and New Jersey as they recover from Hurricane Sandy.

Multifunctional design – a concept also expressed in HOG tanks – is prevalent in the Netherlands. Offices and retail spaces are built on top of dikes, public squares and garages act as catch basins for rain and floodwater, and recreational opportunities are designed around floating houses and reservoirs.

But Kimmelman’s focus is on Room for the River, a decades-long, $3 billion program that is at the center of the Netherland’s changing approach to water management.  He describes it as “nearly 40 interlinked infrastructure projects to mitigate climate change along the rivers and waterways that weave through the Netherlands.”

The relocation of farmer Nol Hooijmaihers and his family for the OverDiepse Polder, one of the Room for the River infrastructure projects, demonstrates what, for Kimmelman, is the most powerful lesson of Dutch flood control.

Preparing the Bay For Rising Sea Levels

In the past century, an 8-inch rise has been charted in coastal waters off San Francisco Bay. Scientists say that by 2050 (that’s 38 years), sea level could rise by 1 1/2 feet as a result of global warming.

In a recent San Francisco Chronicle article James Temple profiles SF-based, husband-wife architect team Byron Kuth and Elizabeth Ranieri and their ventilated levee design called Folding Water.

One of six winners in the 2008 “International Rising Tides” competition sponsored by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, Folding Water is a solution that quite literally pokes holes in traditional knowledge of how to combat sea level rise.

Kuth and Ranieri envision a series of 10 to 15 Folding Water levees, “barriers with porous wall that could protect the shore as well as the ecology of the bay” to fully protect the at-risk low-lying areas along San Francisco Bay.

For more specifics on the design, click here.

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