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Overview of "The Room for River" Project

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For centuries dating back as far as the Roman Empire tidal flooding has caused danger, humans and wildlife alike have been victims of this issue. As climate change begins to cause a greater impact at a faster rate we are forced to look for alternate solutions. As stated in one article “This acceleration is attributed mainly to ocean warming, a quickening pace of land ice loss, and a net transfer of groundwater from the land into the sea”. The once useful sea walls are only slowing down the potential destruction of tidal flooding, but thanks to the Dutch we may have a permanent solution called “Room for the River.”

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One of the first inventions to combat this issue were sea walls dating back to four hundred forty eight A.D in the Roman Empire. The purpose of these walls has been to protect areas of human habitation, conservation and leisure activity from the action of tides, waves, or tsunamis. Even though they have been a great help in setting barriers between the sea and land, as well as help to give a sense of security, they have caused many environmental issues. As stated by Stuart Munch “Our results show that shoreline modifications can alter species assemblage structures, reducing habitat function for species that utilize these and similar habitats elsewhere”. This in turn has basically run out native species who could not adapt to the new environment and allowing foreign ones from invading and completely altering the ecosystem in these areas. So if these man made structures are not the solution is there any ideas that may help us while not hurting the environment?

As a matter of fact, there is back in two thousand and six, the Dutch cabinet came together in order to concise a plan. After great floods occured in nineteen ninety five, which attributed in destroying large amounts of farmland and forcing hundreds to evacuate. They decided it was time for change which they would later name as “The Room for River” project, the idea was that they would enable the rivers to take out large volumes of water which risked flooding land. The plan consisted of making vastly inventive structures as well as modifying pre existing ones in flood plains around their main rivers. Their overall objective was flood protection through complex landscaping while helping the overall state of the surrounding environment. This eliminated the dangers that sea walls had been causing for many years to both humans and nature. Essentially by moving leeves, desoldering as well as both creating and increasing the depth of previous flood channels this plan would work. In one interview Willem Jan Goossen, a senior policy advisor of the project stated, “We undertook a lot of research looking at new insights on more effective coastal and river flood protection and we came up with a new analysis and new safety standards for our dikes and coastal defences”. The costs that the Netherlands paid for the project were well worth it as it saved them much more from the annual cost that the country as a whole was facing due to floods. To this date twelve years later the proof is evident the flooding has dropped significantly and helped the Netherlands greatly.

Although “Room for the River” is a great idea this plan can only work by implementing another eco friendly idea called “Green Infrastructures” this term comes in a variety of ideas such as planting trees in urban areas,implementing rain gardens, and designing homes and business around green space such as natural trails. “The green infrastructure approach can be implemented at any scale: the individual, parcel, the local community or even multi-state region”. Although it may seem like a small change with time the results will slowly emerge only further solving the issue at hand. This concept is nothing new in fact, in the state of Maryland the plan is already in action all thanks to the Maryland Greenways Commision. Surprisingly the idea proved to be popular within the state and local cities, together with Pennsylvannia, Virginia and the District of Columbia Maryland joined a pact to preserve and restore the bay itself. The overall goal of Greenways was to preserve the natural land that they have, but ultimately has become so much more. What they have done is an initiative to reversing the negative effects of global warming. Now this idea could be a law that could be enforced nationwide, the results could be nothing short of jaw dropping.

What both these ideas have done are changing the dynamic in the areas affected .The “Room for the River” project has protected the Netherlands from the damages of floods and green infrastructures are helping to preserve places such as parts of the East Coast and its ecosystems The costs to put these plans in motion are small compared to what we could be paying in the near future.

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