Then tragedy. In the last two weeks of the month floods killed 302 people in China’s Henan province and in Europe 196 died as intense storms swept across Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
‘Drain systems are too old to manage floods’
Severe flash flooding is becoming increasingly common around the world and concentrated urban areas in particular are completely unprepared for their impact, say scientists.
Dr Harvey Rodda, University College of London’s Department of Earth Sciences, says: “The drainage infrastructure in London has a part to play in surface water flooding. Many surface water sewers are old, have not been designed on hydrological studies and are under-capacity.”
In addition, many urban areas have developed more hard surfaces than ever before. In the UK, for example, one survey reported more than one in 10 British gardens had been paved over to create a parking space.
Despite green spaces shrinking, flat concrete roofs still dominate urban skylines, open spaces remain paved and streets and motorways continue to spread their endless tarmac trail across national landscapes.
Green roofs help reduce flooding
Commenting on subway flooding in New York, the city’s Interim Transit President Sarah Feinburg says: “Concrete does not absorb water. The water comes through vents, downstairs in waterfalls, and then if drains cannot handle the water, it goes over the curb and makes things worse.”
So, how can we adapt our urban areas to be more resilient to extreme flooding? Green roofs are a highly effective solution.
Jure Šumi, Knauf Insulation’s Green Solutions Advocacy Lead, says: “Today is the United Nations’ World Water Day which every year focuses on the sustainable management of our most precious research.