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Creating a Voice for the Voiceless in a Changing Urban Climate

September 4th, 2014 by

By Deborah Kim Gaddy

Deborah Kim Gaddy is an environmental justice organizer for Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund

Cross-posted from The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread’s Inspiring Solutions series on urban water infrastructure


Deborah Kim Gaddy

New Jersey’s older cities were built with water at their core – for industry, goods movement, plumbing, drinking and recreational enjoyment. Despite these best-laid plans, pipes and treatment plants alone are no longer affordable as the sole solution to growing needs and climate change. Climate change means both more extreme wet AND dry weather ahead. Future cities must be designed to absorb more water onsite and at other times save it for future beneficial uses. Adding low-cost water infrastructure, such as rain barrels and cisterns, collects floodwaters for a more positive purpose while conserving more expensive potable water for its primary use – drinking. We all know the benefits of green infrastructure are both immediate and long-term. This type of infrastructure can:

  • Reduce routine flooding, as well as during extreme weather events;
  • Create less strain on older pipes and treatment plants to manage capacity;
  • Temper the heat island effect;
  • Create recreational space for much-needed physical exercise, play and restorative enjoyment; and
  • Provide more oxygen-producing plants and trees that improve physical, psychological and emotional health.

Read the full article on The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread’s website.

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