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'Sponge Cities' Combat Floods By Replacing Cement With Wetlands

By Aimee Lutkin

Climate change is forcing huge shifts in how city planners deal with rising waters. A district in Shanghai known as Lingang was renamed Nanhui New City as architects and government agencies work to change the area into a space that could absorb water in times of flooding. 

The Guardian reports that such locations are known as "sponge cities," and they're becoming a more popular alternative to other more traditional forms of flooding protecting, and becoming far more positive for the environment than ever before.

Coastal areas and drainage spots in China have been hampered by quickly developing cities that pave the ground in concrete, which blocks the flow of water. Nanhui is being built up with wetlands and green infrastructure that gives somewhere for the water to naturally go and be absorbed. 

Permeable pavement allows the ground soil to soak it up and the central Dishui Lake, which is man made, helps control its flow. Raised walkways make the city navigable during times of heavy rain or water flow.