Fighting drought with sculpture

They look like abstract sculptures- skeletal ghosts of vases- but they’ve been carefully designed to harvest moisture from the atmosphere and can be built with locally available materials.

Called WarkaWater towers, each pillar is comprised of two sections: a semi-rigid exoskeleton built by tying stalks of juncus or bamboo together and an internal plastic mesh, reminiscent of the bags oranges come in. The nylon and polypropylene fibres act as a scaffold for condensation, and as the droplets of dew form, they follow the mesh into a basin at the base of the structure.

via Bamboo vase uses dew to fight drought (Wired UK).

Chicago's green alleys

Chicago, which claims to have more square miles of alleyway than any other city, is starting to pave them with permeable materials that will reduce run off and cut the heat island effect. They’ll also be installing low energy lighting. The initial costs are greater than just relaying concrete or tarmac but cut the risk of flooded basements and other knock on effects.

Perhaps the scheme could be extended to pavement outside the ally and other pedestrian areas. Far too many of the pavements around here drain off into huge puddles on roads or where there are dips. Take it another step further and let’s have rules that require these materials be used in domestic paving to mitigate all the short sightedconcreting of front lawns that’s become so prevalent.

via Common sense Agriculture, Conservation and Energy

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Hard Rain

Greenhouse gasses are causing shifts in rainfall patterns, leading to summers like this one (so far the wettest since records began). Just to make things more complicated, this heavier precipitation is going to alternate with hot summers like last year, but in entirely unpredictable ways.

Aside from focussing on the root cause of all of this I think it’s time to do some better planning around water use. Perhaps every new build should have mandatory rainwater storage for grey use (toilets etc.) All of those tanks would provide a buffer during heavy rain fall that would lessen run off and thus flooding and save water in dry spells. Whilst we’re about it, how about fines for the fools who concrete over their gardens and/or rewards for anyone who rips the paving up and plants a lawn.

Neither of these measures woudl stop flooding, particularly with water volume such as that seen in the last week, but they could soak up overflow in lesser events, and cut the burden on reservoirs.

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