These ‘sponge cities’ in China are looking at green alternatives to prevent flooding | GBRI

Shanghai’s Lingang district is a low-lying coastal area that faces the threat of rising sea levels. Lingang is slowly going green- with rooftop gardens, tree-lined pavements, rain gardens and wetland areas. The idea is to reverse the impact of concrete development that blocks the natural flow of water leading to potential flooding risks.

“In the natural environment, most precipitation infiltrates the ground or is received by surface water, but this is disrupted when there are large-scale hard pavements,” says Wen Mei Dubbelaar, director of water management China at Arcadis. “Now, only about 20-30% of rainwater infiltrates the ground in urban areas, so it breaks the natural water circulation and causes waterlogging and surface water pollution.”

In Lingang, the wide streets are built with permeable pavements, allowing water to drain to the soil. Central reservations are used as rain gardens, filled with soil and plants. The large manmade Dishui Lake helps control the flow of water, and buildings feature green rooftops and water tanks.

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