The flood waters are coming. Let nature protect you from itself

Wed, 2015-11-18 06:00 -- SCC Staff

In just the past few years, we’ve seen just how devastating severe storms can be to coastal areas. And as sea levels rise, that threat is only going to get worse.

So what can you do to mitigate the risk? Council Lead Partner Bechtel is finding that your best protection from nature’s fury may be … nature.

How does nature do it?
When it comes to designing solutions to protect your coast, Bechtel suggests that engineers may want to put down the books and study nature’s design. Speaking at the World Ocean Council’s Sustainable Ocean Summit in Singapore, Marco Pluijm, Bechtel’s senior ports specialist, said nature has been protecting itself for thousands and thousands of years.

He says the approach has traditionally been to follow engineering trends and borrow ideas that have worked in other places. But every place is different.

Instead, he recommends that engineers look at barrier islands and other natural features of the areas they are working in. Those features have evolved in response to the specific conditions and threats there.

Putting insight into action
In particular, Pluijm says those natural features provide great insight into how sediment moves in the area and deliver valuable clues about the types of features and their dimensions that offer the most protection.

Bechtel says this new way of looking at nature has the potential to greatly help New York as it continues to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy, the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. history. It could also help improve the operations at ports in Africa, which are trying to figure out how to protect against swells.

More stories …
Coastal cities getting smarter about flood control
Smart cities researchers simulate human behavior during floods