Your browser may block some cookies by default. By clicking, you agree to allow our advertising partners to place their cookies and serve you more relevant ads. Visit our privacy policy page to view our privacy policy or opt-out.
pexels-photo-50868-1505322460151-1505322462595.jpeg
Source: Ayala/Pexels

China Launches Initiative For 'Sponge Cities' To Combat Flooding

By Aimee Lutkin

China is a country which has experienced rapid industrialization within the last century, with a number of low-lying areas that make it vulnerable to flooding. For example, in 2016, train stations, a football field and roads were completely underwater in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Certain places are also struggling with drought and water management, with one drought this year recorded as the worst in history, according to the New York Times

In 2015, China launched a "sponge city" initiative with a very ambitious goal. By 2020, 70 percent of all rainwater should be absorbed in at least 80 percent of urban areas in all of China. GreenBiz reports that the program was launched in 16 cities around the country, with hundreds of millions of dollars going to retrofit infrastructures already in place in bigger cities.

The Guardian interviewed local experts on the efficiency of the sponge cities plans in 2016, most of whom pointed out all the ways that prioritizing recycling and absorbing water can benefit communities, business, and the environment everywhere. Michael Zhao, an expert in water management who works for global urban designers group Arup in Shanghai, explained how delays addressing the issue have already made it more problematic than necessary.

“In China the climate is bringing more rain in summer. From June to September there will be high density rainfall which is bringing up urban planning problems,” said Zhao. “There’s already been very serious flooding for four or five years each summer. You will see flooding in more and more cities. As urbanization brings more people to those cities the problem becomes worse and worse.”