Rotterdam’s wet dream aka ‘climate proofing’

One of the pleasures of the weekend is trolling through international newspapers and magazines on line. I’ve read a huge range of articles thanks to Zite, people putting links on twitter (thanks @seeby) and it reminded me to have a look at some of other favourite newspapers. There I found a fascinating article on how Rotterdam has creatively come up with solutions to ‘climate proofing’ that not only make sense but improve where they live.

Rotterdam is particularly vulnerable since 90 per cent of it is below sea level. With increasing storms and higher water levels some creative thinking came up with some very clever solutions to the water problem.

According to the Guardian article, Rotterdam is facing increasingly frequent small-scale flooding.  The key to coming up with politically palatable solutions, said Molenaar, is to present them as “opportunities”.

“That means devising double-purpose measures, including:

A parking garage built last year that incorporates a 10,000 cubic metre underground rainwater store. Expensive underground structures aren’t generally favoured in the flood-prone city but several million euros were saved by combining the car park and water store;

• “Water plazas” that under normal conditions are playgrounds but that temporarily hold water during heavy rain, then slowly release it to the drainage system;

• An Olympic rowing course that doubles as a water store;

• Rooftop gardens that absorb rain and CO2 and reduce the urban island temperature effect, being built at a rate of 40,000 square metres a year with a 50% subsidy;

• Premium-priced floating communities on waterside sites vacated as facilities of Europe‘s biggest port are moved nearer the coast.

The climate-proofing effort, that is costing about €100m, is mapped out in a long-term plan called Rotterdam Water City 2035, sometimes referred to as the city’s “wet dream”, said Molenaar.

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