June 2013: Water News Round-up

Andrew Revkin’s New York Times blog, Dot Earth, provides simple analysis for better understanding President Obama’s newly revealed strategies to counteract climate change. Learn more about the climate action plan here (including “a suite of new steps to cut vulnerability to climate and coastal hazards”).

Which brings us to New York City, post Hurricane Sandy, where, this June, Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a detailed $20 billion, 438-page proposal for reconstruction. Fortifying infrastructure, renovating buildings and defending the shore top the ambitious list.

Whether it’s coastal hazards or access for urban or agricultural use, location is an issue where water is concerned. Eastern and Western states have different policies governing water rights; both are contested. The water wars article from NPR discusses issues swirling around the Klamath River in Oregon and the Chattahoochee River that flows through Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

The Whole HOG: May 2013

Water-centric Green Design News

“One winner for versatility and storage capacity is the Rainwater HOG…rainwater storage…that can sit flat under a deck or stand up against the side of a building.” – Tricia Edgars, Kalev.com

Rainwater HOG is a standout in The Rain Barrel, Reinvented section of Tricia Edgars’ new overview of revolutionary ways to store rainwater on Kalev.com. We’re in good company with friends like RainSaucers, the stand alone water funnel that frees water collection from the downspout.

“Young people and farmers starved for jobs – and land starved for water – were a prescription for revolution,” writes Thomas Friedman in his recent New York Times op-ed about Syria. We generally use the word ‘revolution’ much more lightly than Friedman, but we wanted to share his take on fallout from the Arab Spring in “Without Water, Revolution.”

Although our focus is on rainwater primarily for home or school use – be it greywater reuse, toilet flush, landscape irrigation, or simply watering flowers on the patio- sometimes it’s instructive to zoom out and look at water in a global context.  Water is a diminishing resource and access to water is an emerging global issue that has social, economic, and political repercussions worldwide.  Here’s Friedman again:

“This Syria disaster is like a superstorm. It’s what happens when an extreme weather event, the worst drought in Syria’s modern history, combines with a fast-growing population and a repressive and corrupt regime and unleashes extreme sectarian and religious passions, fueled by money from outside powers…” This is worth a read!

This May, we’re not holding back with news and events: Sally Dominguez to present at the Marin Home & Garden Expo, an ARCSA rainwater catchment survey,  a NY-ASLA presentation on Reimagining School Grounds; case studies: Egg Harbor City Community School brings HOGs to an edible classroom; and, last but not least, our B.U.G. Design feature: Mill Valley Green Home.

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.