The beginning of gutter politics?
Sometimes politics pops up where you least expect it. In the middle of an election campaign politics appears in all the usual places – the health system, taxation, the economy, welfare. But politics doesn’t stop there. In between elections and beyond the headlines, politics still goes on.
Of all the places you would expect to find politics, urban drainage isn’t one of them. It doesn’t appear in any party manifesto. Campaign strategists like Lynton Crosby and David Axelrod are unlikely to be prepping their candidates on how to respond to questions about surface water runoff. Gutter metaphors aside, decisions about how to engineer urban water systems so that our streets and homes don’t flood during rainstorms is not obviously an area for politicians to campaign about. Surely of all things, urban drainage is something for the engineers to deal with, so that politicians can get on with making really tough decisions on important issues, like health, tax and the economy.
Urban drainage engineering has been undergoing a quiet, but significant revolution in recent decades. Until recently drainage in modern cities has been designed so that the water that falls on our streets and roofs is taken away as quick as possible. It keeps us safe from flooding during storms, but it dumps dirty water elsewhere, usually in streams and rivers that suffer from pollution and changing patterns of flow. (more…)