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Nonfiction in response to Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
September 2018

Efficient Infrastructure:

Sponge Cities

By Karen Wu
10. Karen (credit flic).jpg

Infrastructure is an important component to a functioning society--according to the UN, good infrastructure can help people achieve social and economic success. However, the infrastructure we build must be efficient and built to meet people’s needs.


One of the issues commonly faced around the world is lack of access to water. According the UN, almost 800 million people worldwide face this problem. So how can infrastructure help solve this problem?


Not only can the water supply system be improved, but even buildings whose primary purpose is not water-related can be used to collect water. Meet “sponge cities”: an initiative launched by China which seeks to allow areas in the city to absorb and recycle rainwater. Rather than only having the typical sewage system for water collection, this initiative works to allow other features of cities to be able to collect water. Typical constructions for this initiative include scenic wetlands and permeable pavements for storing rainwater and rooftop gardens that can increase food production and take advantage of rainfall.


This initiative is beneficial because the buildings not only provide infrastructure that is much-needed in some places, but also recycle water. Furthermore, the sponge city initiative can help prevent flooding. It has already been proved to be effective in Xiamen city and Wuhan city during heavy rainfall.


While China’s initiative only includes urban areas, this project can be extended to rural areas, and even worldwide. Sponge cities might be more effective in some countries than others, but all countries should think of ways to make their infrastructure more efficient to support the needs of their population.

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