Experts will take your questions on sponge cities live in the comments section of this page on Monday 26 October between 1-2pm GMT

1.53pm GMT

How can companies integrate sponge city designs into their work and what can be done to encourage this?

Municipalities should take the lead. Water, space, both are primarily public goods. Governments should think about how to create the best enabling environment for innovation in the right direction, creating opportunities for business but for local community initiatives and art, design and creative initiatives as well. The future city is not a matter of building structures, it’s about building communities. Leading themes could be: creating a circular economy, energy self-sufficiency, climate neutrality, zero-fuel-100% electrified transport, closed municipal water cycle.

Several solutions should be brought into play in a Sponge city.. All should focus on saving ressources as energy and water..

Grundfos adds these values into all solutions.. here is an example:

First business needs access to good decision-making information. Not all sites are created equal in terms of their ‘sponge’ potentials and pitfalls. There is no one-size fits all approach within a particular city or watershed.

Business will be more effective, and incentivized to act, when they have access to the information they need. Decision-making tools need to integrate hyper-local, place-specific data and provide business clients with specific, scenario-based answers for the costs and benefits of acting and not acting (including valuing ecosystem services).

For businesses, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. 99% of US business building use their water bill to determine waste that occurred over a month ago. Tracking consumption in real-time can catch mechanical and operational waste when it starts – we finding 20% savings on average with businesses that closely track their water consumption.

1.42pm GMT

Reader Anna Lo Jacomo asks: what is the biggest obstacle to building water-resilient cities?

I guess the greatest obstacle is the political will to act. It’s not a technical problem…

Although LA and dry western cities like it are developing plans to harvest stormwater through re-tooled large-scale infrastructures on publicly owned lands, one large unanswered question is: how do you empower the private sector—from corporate citizens to individual families and neighborhoods—to participate actively in optimizing the surface of the city?

Businesses and property owners need to know, what’s the right move for harvesting, conserving and reusing water on my particular site? Some building sites are good for harvesting stormwater for aquifer recharge; others are better for on-site treatment and retention. Public investement is important, but won’t be enough. Cities need to make it easy for the private sector to do the right thing in the collective interest.

I think the really big challange is that infrastructure is already built to deal with the "old Rainfall".. and only the damages in the future will pay the solution…

So planning the future must not only solve problems, but there should be developed an additional value in raised living quality in the city with the SPonge solution…

I’m hearing discussions on water reuse(post treatment) strategy and infrastructure: For more efficient distribution of treated water for reuse, does it make more sense to treat wastewater locally/regionally versus treatment at a centralized plant?

I like the way Rotterdam (Netherlands) is profiling itself as climate-proof city, see On the other hand, it all remains rather a collection of a couple of nice initiatives, with green rooftops, floating houses. At large, nothing is so much more "climate-proof" as in the past.

If we really want to change cities to more resilient communities, a lot needs to happen structurally. We’ll not come there by here and there a good initiative – a few green rooftops – some permeable roads – some reedbeds for wastewater treatment – a multifunctional park with artwork and water storage capacity etc. What we need is the incorporation of climate-neutral design throughout the city – also in existing parts of the city, not just in new buildings. And we need water storage capacity at large scale. Green rooftops should compete with solar panel systems. We should get rid of the urban heat island effect by green city design.

Just want to add what I see as another barrier:

—insufficient understanding of costs/benefits of adopting good "sponge" strategies.

I don’t think there is one main barrier the world over. In some cities (particularly high density developing cities with poor land law enforcement) the issue is space, in others it is political will or justifying the business case (which is why more cities are moving to mandating stormwater retention on private properties), but can also be resistance to part with the beloved car-oriented paved surfaces, or even just knowledge about groundsoils and groundwater table necessary to make effective sponge-like interventions.

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Source: Guardian Environment