Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
Send news

News tags

mental health  physical activity  earthquake  vacancies  families  public health  children  funding  poverty  health determinants  social  Community development  planning  employment  healthy cities  volunteers  newsletter  youth  volunteering  nutrition  employment opportunity  housing  alcohol and drugs  maori  community engagement  rebuilding  wellbeing  disabilities  Lectures  counselling  Training  earthquake recovery  sustainability  event  community gardens  Community  seminar  Awards  stress  Community Groups  mens health  research  arts  smokefree  culture  men  exercise  migrants  community event  education  environment  resilience  human rights  health  medical  business  sport  conferences  survey  mental wellbeing  Courses  obesity  elderly  support group  environmental health  healthy food  health promotion  violence  pacific health  resources  rebuild  women  race relations  meeting  gardens  workshop  services  leadership  forum  water  disabled  repair  transport  prevention  pacific  dance  fundraising  asian health  sexual health  inequality  cancer  support  disasters  development  mindfulness  dementia  presentation  collaboration  health in all policies  data analysis  recovery  smoking  law  drugs and alcohol  technology  safety  cycling  Sleep  policy  parenting  media  hearing  walking  land  neighbours  social justice  qualification  resilient cities  information  community connection  consultation  oral health  bullying  depression  youth empowerment  young people  activities  non-profit  charity  harm  NURSES  addiction  disease  Communication  alcohol  symposium  submission  anxiety  accessibility  Relationships  eating  economics  Advocacy  eLearning  falls  parking  energy  efficiency  heating  insulation  advice  Eating Disorders  abuse  waste  Matariki  webinar  diabetes  workplace  Film  Climate Change  solutions  urban  management  economy  plan  restoration  Report  Vulnerability  welfare  parks  learning  awareness  emergencies  legislation  injury prevention  reading  Meeting Room  conservation  language  refugees  recreation  built environment  data  venue  urban design  Food  older people  finances  suicide  heritage  gender  recycling  breastfeeding  public  identity  Nursing  submissions  Rainbow  biodiversity  campaign  promotion  Gut Health  diversity  therapy  older adults  sexuality  computing  pollution  School Holidays  Arts Therapy  providers  gambling  Maori health  Cervical cancer  screening  trauma  autism  Governance  treaty of waitangi  care  mentoring  pets  relaxation  Professional Development  pornography  exhibition  history  discrimination  vaping  equity  lockdown  grief  rural  hygiene  participation  tourism  summer  intervention  warning  podcast  science  petition  swimming  roadworks  traffic  wildlife  beaches  pools  immunisation  vaccination  brain  preparation  open day  market  evaluation  noise  music  property  testing  crafts  CALD  cultural diversity  camping  creativity  child health  tamariki  climate action  refugee  migrant  community events  road safety  library  Hornby  skills  placemaking  regenerative communities  journey  reflection  regional council  councillors  water management  emergency management  retirement  stress management  Christmas  family  festival  alcohol harm  waterways  planting  health protection  legionnaire's disease  hepatitis  heatwaves  river beds  water safety  fishing  gardening  workshops  stormwater  biosecurity  volunteer  plant and animal pest management  politics  faith  crime  drugs  pregnancy  native birds  Waimakariri  water quality  schools  health professionals  heart disease  kura  school  ethical issues  rangatahi  Linwood  running  donations  whanau  financial pressures  online  health professional  flooding  conflict  peace  winter 

Sponge Cities: Can they help us survive more intense rainfall?

Wednesday, August 23, 2023   Posted in: Resources and Information By: Administrator With tags: Climate Change, research, Report, environmental health, water, emergencies

A major new research report from the Helen Clark Foundation and WSP in New Zealand is recommending a series of actions to respond to the escalating impacts of climate change-induced extreme rainfall events. These include excluding vulnerable flood-prone areas from development and incorporating mātauraunga Māori knowledge to minimise urban flood risk.

Find out more about the Sponge Cities report from the Helen Clark Foundation and WSP in New Zealand.

Report author Kali Mercier says sponge city approaches to stormwater management must be urgently explored to help fortify the country against climate impacts and reduce urban flood risk. While creating spongier places and spaces on a large scale across Aotearoa New Zealand’s many towns and cities will cost, not doing it will ultimately be much more expensive.

“We really do not have any other alternative if we want to avoid loss of life and property in the long term.”

Kali says in many places our current approach is falling short. “With climate change predictions showing increased extreme rainfall, we must act urgently, decisively and strategically to address urban flooding. Our aging stormwater infrastructure is increasingly unable to cope, now, with deluges that are all-too-frequently causing catastrophic damage – let alone five, ten, or twenty years into our shared climate future.

“Catastrophic flooding events in Nelson-Marlborough in August 2022, and in Auckland in January 2023, highlight the urgent need to better adapt our urban areas to these inevitable changes. The development status quo of covering every available inch of surface with concrete isn’t helping. Building across the natural flow path of water creates larger issues.

“We’re losing valuable green spaces which make our cities more absorbent. When the heavens open, the water has to go somewhere. We’ve created the problem by building in the wrong places, such as the bottom of floodplains or over existing water flow paths.”

The report finds that when sponge city or ‘nature based’ approaches are deployed alongside conventional engineering solutions and stormwater infrastructure upgrades, they’re effective at supporting and enhancing community resilience.

The concept of sponge cities is inspired by ancient Chinese farming techniques, and promotes working with water rather than against it - by ‘daylighting’ streams, reducing impervious surfaces, enhancing green spaces, and implementing green infrastructure.

With plenty of blue-green natural features, sponge cities allow water to flux and be absorbed, stored, and slowly released into the environment - mimicking natural hydrological processes. They’ve also been shown to benefit biodiversity and human wellbeing by creating new habitats and amenities in urban areas.

International evidence shows that sponge city approaches can be one of the best proactive measures towns and cities can take to minimise future flood risk.

WSP Technical Principal for Water Liam Foster says using nature-based and sponge city solutions to create space for the waterways to slow down, detain and retain water is a clear and immediate action we can, and should, take.

“With a strong focus on the natural flow of water and ecosystems’ ability to absorb water, mātauranga Māori knowledge will play a vital role in Aotearoa’s path to a spongier future.

“For this to work as part of a truly national stormwater solution for our urban areas, everybody from local and central government agencies, private industry and even individual homeowners need to be engaged.

“The report emphasises several crucial actions, such as coordinated planning at national and local levels to maintain space around flow paths and waterways, as well as initiating retrofitting of green infrastructure as a pragmatic starting point for all towns. Vulnerable flood-prone areas should also be excluded from new development.

“Let’s get behind this report and work together to kickstart a future ready conversation around making space for water – one that underpins why a sponge cities approach is desperately needed to help build Aotearoa’s climate-resilient urban future.”