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As flooding frequency increases, more US cities opt for green infrastructure

Source(s):  Christian Science Monitor

Boston’s Fort Point Channel is a dreary corner of an otherwise rapidly beautifying city. In the shadow of the glittering financial district, this thin canal lined with aging concrete factories could easily pass for the setting in a Charles Dickens novel. It’s also low-lying and right on the water – and that’s a problem. In 2018, record high tides brought on by nor’easters in January and March inundated the area several times with icy stormwater.

But last fall, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced plans for a network of public parks along the channel that could revitalize the waterway. The sloping banks of this grassy installation would serve as a catchment, protecting nearby neighborhoods from floodwater. The idea is an extension of a broader initiative, Climate Ready Boston.

American cities typically dredge rivers and build concrete walls along waterfronts to stem rising tides. But this so-called gray infrastructure can be unsightly, costly to maintain, and inflexible, says Kimberly Gray, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northwestern University. Severe flooding is on the rise in the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As a result, urban planners from Boston to Houston to Milwaukee are increasingly considering transforming valuable waterfront real estate into climate-adaptable natural greenways.

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  • Publication date 30 Mar 2018

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