How can we reduce floods, droughts and water pollution?

By using the solutions we already find in nature.

 

According to the UN-Water website–

World Water Day, which is on March 22 every year, is about focusing attention on the importance of water. This year’s theme, ‘Nature for Water’, explores nature-based solutions (NBS) to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.

The central message of World Water Day 2018 is that NATURE BASED SOLUTIONS, such as planting trees to replenish forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands, is a sustainable and cost-effective way to help re-balance the water cycle, mitigate the effects of climate change and improve human health and livelihoods.


The Neponset River Watershed Association uses “Nature Based Solutions” when working to conserve water, reduce water pollution, and improve the environment.

 

  • We work with towns to plant trees, rain gardens and natural basins to filter dirty water from street runoff, and help prevent water pollution. We call these projects, BMPs, for Best Management Practices.
  • We encourage water conservation by teaching people to use drought-tolerant, native plants in their landscapes.
  • We also work to improve the health of waterways by removing dams to restore fish passages; control and remove invasive species to give native plants a chance to thrive; and restore salt marshes to help with flood control.

Read more about our projects here.


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What are Nature Based Solutions (NBS)?
Restoring forests, grasslands and natural wetlands, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, creating buffers of vegetation along water courses – these are all examples of NBS that help the management of water availability and quality. Most NBS, including in urban landscapes, essentially involve the management of vegetation, soils and/or wetlands, including rivers and lakes.

NBS are not a panacea to the critical water-related challenges we face as the global population grows, but they can provide innovative and cost-effective options for supplementing insufficient or ageing water infrastructure. For example:

Water availability and supply: Water storage via natural wetlands, soil moisture and/or groundwater recharging can be more sustainable and cost-effective than grey infrastructure, such as dams.
Water quality: Pollution from agriculture can be drastically reduced by NBS such as conservation agriculture, which protects soil from erosion, or riparian buffers, strips of land along water courses planted with native trees and shrubs.
Risk management: The effects of climate change, such as frequent extreme flooding, can be mitigated by a range of NBS, such as riparian buffers or connecting rivers to floodplains.

The application of certain NBS creates what is known as ‘green infrastructure’: natural or semi-natural systems that give us equivalent or similar benefits to conventional, human-built ‘grey infrastructure’.

NBS often produce benefits beyond water-related services. For example, constructed wetlands used for wastewater treatment can provide biomass for energy production, improve biodiversity and create recreational spaces and associated employment.

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