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I have a cousin who studied civil engineering and architecture and has 20+years of work experience in those areas. He is now considering a slight career change, if possible in a German speaking country (he has German citizenship). He has interesting ideas (as far as from his student days) on building resource efficient local communities in the sense of energy, water resources and so on.
Let me say about water drainage issues, the topic which is now considered often in central Europe. The level of underground water in urban and suburban areas is dropping steadily in last several decades. There are several reasons connected to human presence. First of all, large area of the land is covered with parking lots, roofs and so on. Water falls on a roof, road or similar area and goes directly into the channels or canalization systems, it can not get into the ground which is covered. Thus only the water falling on grassland, parks and so on gets absorbed into the ground. The water under ground of course gets partly spread through natural underground streams, what does not concern much surface water, but that means that the underground streams, has lower supply. Another problem is that if the rain is big, all the water from covered areas gets into the channels soon and this raises flooding treats. If the water is first getting into ground like forest or meadows area, then it releases water mor slowly and the wave of released water is diminished, so the treat of flooding is smaller.
Many solutions are considered. The areas of parking lots, pathways, roads and so on should not be continuous, but should be interspersed with areas where water can get into the grassland, grass strips, if possible, equipped with efficient drainage structure at places, so that water gets absorbed into the ground fast. This makes flooding buffer and also helps maintain natural level of underground water what is important for example for survival of trees in surrounding mini-green areas, for health of gardens, and as a supply of water for many purposes (if not hi quality, local water is often used in urban area for gardening, industrial use, local construction and so on). This also concerns the survival of local small lakes.
Maybe we should write about such ideas in Azimuth. And if somebody has some contacts for my cousin, let me know. It would be ideal if the scientists in some research institute concerned with urbanism and resource efficiency needs contract collaboration with an experienced person from architecture and civil engineering, I am sure such exist somewhere but the right profile is probably not easy to find and match.