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Home » Infrastructure » One city at a time: Finding solutions to future proof our cities

John McPeake

Technical Sales Manager, Wavin Ireland

As our cities grow and deal with the impacts of the climate crisis, it is clear that we need to be smarter and ensure that we build climate resilience into our cities and towns.

During the past year, cities throughout Ireland, including Dublin, Cork and Galway have experienced torrential rainfall resulting in dramatic flash flooding. We are not alone; many other European cities across France, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Italy and Austria experienced catastrophic flooding in recent times.

Building climate resilient cities

Sustainability pioneers, like Sacha Stolp, Director of Innovation for the Future-Proof Assets Program in Amsterdam, are leading the crusade for more climate-resilient cities. One neighbourhood at a time. City by city.

Stolp says: “We need to future-proof our assets and create new standards.” If we do, she suggests, we can have a completely new world where we are climate-adaptive, circular, carbon neutral, future-proof, smart. Stolp’s mission is to create a climate-resilient and future-proof Amsterdam by 2050. She wants to create new standards and a new normal – in collaboration with universities, knowledge institutions and the business community.

Innovative solutions and commitments needed

Wavin believes this could equally apply to Ireland. With innovative solutions and a commitment to building healthy, sustainable environments, it is poised and ready to collaborate in taking on the challenge.

With regard to flooding and rainwater management, lasting solutions won’t solely be about efficient stormwater disposal – storing and reusing water for dry periods and meeting the increasing water demand caused by urbanisation will be key for greener cities to thrive.

Now more than ever our cities need trees to create shade, improve local air quality and provide us with comfort.

Urbanisation poses challenges in terms of sustainable construction, safe and efficient water supply, sanitation and the disposal of rainwater and wastewater. The climate crisis means that cities also have to deal with increasingly long periods of drought or flooding. Far-reaching measures are needed to address these problems. 

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Small actions can make a big impact. For example:

Infiltration/ attenuation – Using the tools of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) such as permeable surfaces and soakaways to prevent surface runoff and facilitate ground absorption. Attenuation tanks prevent flooding whereby most of the water is released in a controlled flow into the storm drain or sewer system after heavy rain events. By using available technology, we could reuse the water to maintain greenery and infiltrate it back to our groundwater to avoid depletion.

Avoiding sewer overflows in heavy rainfall – Digital tools like sensors that enable predictive maintenance and improved product design can protect the city’s sewer systems from failing due to clogging. Sensors can monitor and ensure cleaning takes place only when needed – saving the city costs and resources. While road gullies with features like filter options protect the sewers from clogging due to debris.

Protecting trees – Now more than ever our cities need trees to create shade, improve local air quality and provide us with comfort. With increased heavy traffic, and more paved areas, our trees face difficult conditions. Simple solutions like a TreeTank system, which allows trees to live in urban settings without disrupting or damaging infrastructure, mean they can also play a key role in urban stormwater management, reducing the volume of rainwater entering the old drainage networks of many towns and cities in Ireland.

Wavin is a global organisation with an impressive history in the field of water management. The company was founded in 1955 to modernise the water network in the Netherlands. It was established in Ireland in 1958 and was instrumental in delivering fresh water to Irish homes. In the following decades it grew to become the European and Latin American market leader.

Now, we are committed to the further development of products that can keep cities liveable and loveable in the future by taking action on four purpose drivers: safe and efficient water supply, better sanitation and hygiene, climate resilient cities and better building performance. 

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