Regional and Urban Design Committee


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The Regional and Urban Design Committee (RUDC) aims to improve the quality of the regional and urban environment by promoting excellence in design, planning, and public policy in the built environment. This will be achieved through its member and public education, in concert with allied community and professional groups. Join us!

When Stormwater Becomes a Matter of Life or Death

  • 1.  When Stormwater Becomes a Matter of Life or Death

    Posted 03-19-2019 16:50


    The recent "The great bomb cyclone" in Colorado, the late winter floods of the Midwest, and all kinds of extreme weather remind us that the built environment has to adapt to new challenges. This article addresses how extreme precipitation challenges conventional ways of handling stormwater.

    Floods have been around forever and since at least Noah people understood the relation of rain and flood, cherished water as the source of life and  feared it for its destructive powers.
    The town of Garessio, Italy, Nov. 2016 

    For most of history rain and water were a divine matter over which people had no say except for sometimes ingenious attempts for managing both such as Mesopotamia's river irrigation and Roman aqueducts. Such sophistication was mostly forgotten again in the Western Hemisphere during the Middle ages. Cities remained cesspools until early of the 20th centuries.

    Like in most parts of the world planners, engineers and hydrologists have to concern themselves with water in earnest when industrialization leads to rapid urbanization and water is in high demand where it is often not easily accessed, for drinking,  power and production. How to manage rain runoff has been an afterthought except for arid zones where water has always been handled as a precious commodity.  Run-off as a source of pollution and destruction finally produced regulation. 2019 marks the 29th year the federal EPA has enacted a stormwater permitting program.

    Recent years mark the beginning of a new period in which urbanization, sealed surfaces...

    [Klaus] Philipsen FAIA
    Archplan Inc. Philipsen Architects
    Baltimore MD
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