The Great Lakes region of the U.S. and Canada is likely to get more intense rainfall as the climate warms. And that’s a problem for heavily populated areas with storm water and sewer systems already under pressure from the sheer number of people using them.

Jackson: “It overwhelms the pipe system. It starts backing up. So we have sewage backing up into people’s basements, we have it backing up onto the roads.”

That’s John Jackson with the Great Lakes Commission. He says there’s a compelling argument to slowing the flow of water by installing systems and using practices that mimic the natural water cycle.

It’s called green infrastructure, and can be as simple as a rain barrel that captures water from a roof. The water can then be used later to wash a car or water the lawn.

Bio-swales in medians, permeable pavements, and rain gardens can be used on a larger scale to prevent water from rushing down the drain and instead soaking in slowly to replenish groundwater supplies.

This is important, even in areas that are not yet seeing system overflows.

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Jackson: “We may think we have a lot of capacity now, but will we 20 years down the road, or 30 years down the road?”

So green infrastructure can play a key role in a city’s preparations for climate change.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
Greater Lakes: Reconnecting the Great Lakes Water Cycle
Coastal Wetland Adaptation to Climate Change

Bridgett Ennis

Bridgett Ennis is co-founder of ChavoBart Digital Media (CBDM), an audio and video production firm with a focus on scientific and environmental media. CBDM contributes original reporting, audio production,...