Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Rain drops keep falling on my head

Welcome. Yesterday we were talking about designs and developments that are life supporting and enhancing. We have, fortunately, an increasing number of those in Minnesota's built environment. The University of Minnesota has green roof installations in a variety of locations such as this one. 
Even in the wilds of Chisago County, the local library in Wyoming has a beautiful rain garden. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recently announced Minimal Impact Design Standards. The use of green infrastructure is a growing (ahem) strategy for storm water management from Chicago to Malmo. Eight strategies are helping to restore natural systems in our built environment. We already seem to have channelized, paved over, enclosed, engineered and otherwise eliminated many natural water functions in our built environment. At last some wiser folks are getting some attention. As a result of the approaches we've followed historically, we have about 40% of Minnesota's surface waters that are officially impaired.  White Bear Lake is disappearing while we continue to allow groundwater withdrawals and consider "tapping" the Mississippi River instead of seriously considering conservation based on requiring the installation of "Water Sense" fixtures in new development and retrofitting them in existing buildings. We could also look seriously at groundwater replenishment through green infrastructure.

It seems to me that, compounding our problems, is a continuing desire for simple, easy, if expensive, solutions. Rarely, that I'm aware of, does nature work that way. As I understand it, evolution tries lots of incremental changes that eventually produce a "better fit" between an organism and its environment. Monoculture is generally frowned upon. Diversity is rewarded. That's the kind of development philosophy I think we need more of. That, and more of the perspective shown by Wendell Berry in his poem Water.

Thanks for listening, come again when you can. Rants, raves and reflections served here daily.