Aren’t flooded basements the worst? This may not be a problem for all, but when it does happen, who can we blame? Mother nature? Well, most people don’t know this, but flooding is an infrastructure problem. Urban flooding is specific in the fact that the cause is a lack of drainage in an urban area. Flooding is often an issue in alleys because many alleys in the City were built without a connection to the City’s combined sewer and storm water system.The good news? Chicago is doing something about it!
They’re called permeable pavements, and the Chicago Green Alley Handbook sings its praises. (1) They suggest paving alternatives to asphalt roads, including recycled materials. In planning for these things, Chicago is using unique open spaces to hold water that would normally drain directly into the sewer system. Water is allowed to seep into the soils through permeable pavement or in filtration basins, instead of being directed into the sewer system or onto adjacent property.
Permeable pavements can be a bit more expensive than using traditional materials. But, the cost and frequency of repair is significantly lower if alternative materials are being used. (2) These savings can help alleviate the cost of using such materials.
Although it isn’t currently a policy, this initiative is one step towards a more sustainable city. There are plenty more examples of this kind of change, which means good news for Chicago!