The Growing Importance of Marrying Efficient Irrigation Design and Green Infrastructure

Regardless of your opinion on climate change, recent data released by NASA and NOAA show 2016 as the warmest year on record globally. The year 2016 was also the third warmest year recorded in a row.

Water availability and stormwater management are growing issues as drought cycles and large rain events occur around the country. As the drought extremes are more pronounced, the use of potable water for irrigating landscapes, including green roofs and green walls, is often in question. When droughts become severe, landscapes are often the first to be sacrificed. The reduction of managed green spaces means much less evapotranspiration, which leads to greater heat from the sun, which leads to increasing temperatures, in a vicious cycle. We need living vegetation to help us adapt to rising temperatures in our cities and manage intense rainfall, but we also need to be cautious with and respect our water resources.

In order to address these challenges, more efficient irrigation design and comprehensive water management are required so the precise amount of water for the plant material is applied and not a drop is wasted. Large weather events cause major flooding, especially in areas where green infrastructure is lacking. Green roofs play a role in stormwater management by delaying, slowing and storing water. Efficient storage, treatment, transportation and delivery technologies are already on the market and can play a key role in supporting the use of green infrastructure, without undue strain on water resources. The capture and reuse of non-potable water in areas of great water scarcity is a strategy already being employed in drought prone areas.

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