While 2020 is known as the year of the “Rat” in the Chinese Calendar, every year could be called the year of the “Flood.”
For 500 years, China’s rivers have gone through catastrophic flooding cycles – killing many and causing millions in water damage.
While China has tried the more typical solutions of dams and levees, a more unique approach is being pursued in the city of Chongqing.
Chongqing, which has been dubbed by some as “Sponge City”, has undertaken a massive effort to install systems that will collect, reuse, and eventually redistribute rainwater back to the Yangtze and Jialing rivers.
As reported in Bloomberg Green:
“The ‘sponge city’ initiative, launched in 2015, is an attempt to reverse that — soak up heavy precipitation and release it slowly into the river and reservoirs. Using features such as rooftop gardens, scenic wetland parks, permeable pavements and underground storage tanks, the plan is to eventually absorb or reuse 70% of the rainwater that falls on four-fifths of China’s urban land.”
But natural floods aren’t China’s only problem.
Incredibly rapid urbanization without proper planning from China’s Communist government has led to more frequent floods in areas where they historically did not happen as often.
Bloomberg Green explains further:
“Wuhan was once known as the ‘city of 100 lakes,’ a reference to its giant flood plain which used to absorb the river’s annual floods. About three-quarters of those lakes were filled in for construction in the past thirty years.”
As China tries to grapple with its floods, more and more levees are being built along the Yangtze in particular. The length of those levees now adds up to a greater length than the Great Wall of China.
And what’s worse, while the “Sponge City” idea sounds great, some Chinese citizens are claiming that the idea isn’t so fantastic after all.
“‘The developers cut down the forest and destroy the grass, build houses, and then plant decorative trees so it becomes a ‘sponge city’ and they make a bunch of money,’ said Zuo, a taxi driver in Chongqing who also would only give his family name.”
Still, some analysts and environmentalists say the fact that the government is even trying to adapt to the floods through Sponge City and other initiatives is a good sign.
Only time will tell if these Sponge Cities are worth it.
To read the full article in Bloomberg Green, click here.