Climate Change Has Made Our Stormwater Infrastructure Obsolete
We are not ready for the extreme rainfall coming with climate change. A quick dramatic thunderstorm in New York on Wednesday flooded Staten Island so badly that brown murky water joined bus riders for their evening ride home.
It’s just one in a growing number of examples of infrastructure not being up to the task. And now, a newly published study shows just how unprepared our infrastructure across the U.S. is to handle extreme rainfall events. Many cities’ water management systems—think stormwater drains or dams—aren’t equipped to handle climate change-influenced weather shifts, according to the study published in Geophysical Research Letters. Staten Island got a taste of that when stormwater infrastructure failed to handle about the inch of rain that fell in 20 minutes. That’s because the system wasn’t built to withstand that much rain in such short a time. But New Yorkers aren’t alone in this predicament.