One of the primary consequences of climate change is the increased incidence of extreme weather events. One example that has proven particularly damaging in cities is heavy rainfall. Extreme precipitation can lead to flooding, runoff of trash and toxins, which can stress infrastructure including roads, sewers, rooftops and drainage pipes.
Across the nation, over 700 cities use a combined system to handle both storm-water and sewage. Stress from increasing water flows is putting these systems to the test, and cities are looking for solutions.
For many municipalities, the answer lays in developing green-infrastructure. These development projects are popping up more and more, in the form of wetland restoration, rain gardens, and green roofs. The goal: to slowly capture rainfall and limit water runoff. These innovative measures take pressure off of aging and vulnerable city infrastructure, while facilitating wildlife protection, developing green spaces, and providing for cleaner air and water.
These solutions are not without their challenges. However, through private-public partnerships, more and more natural and eco-solutions are being employed by communities as they learn to manage the effects of climate change. To learn more about what communities and leaders are doing to fight climate change, visit the Path to Positive and join the movement!
The extreme rainstorms that strike with increasing frequency — such as the Memorial Day weekend downpours in Texas — are having devastating effects beyond the severe flooding they cause. Sudden and forceful rains overwhelm urban storm-drain systems, as water pours over roads, rooftops and other impervious surfaces, washing away dust, oil, trash and waste of all kinds. This dirty wash then runs into rivers, streams and lakes, and pollutes downstream drinking water.
Storm water has become a principal contributor to water pollution nationwide, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. More than 700 U.S. cities use combined storm-water and sewer systems, and many are now overwhelmed by the pollution problem. When their overflows foul nearby waterways, these cities face federal legal action under the Clean Water Act, and penalties that range from millions of dollars in fines to billions in mandated spending on traditional equipment such as pipes, tanks and treatment plants.
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