One reason is that old school thinking about stormwater is expensive. The damage done to Columbia in Oct 2015 is estimated to cost $132million. This is on top of an already expense of $120 million for updating existing water systems. Hurricane Sandy cost NYC $19billion and Hurricane Katrina was estimated to have caused $150billion in damage. These massive costs force towns and cities to go into debt to pay for them. However, often what happens is that systems are repaired and “improved” but not fundamentally changed and reborn. Even worse, repairing what’s broke doesn’t fix the problems but can exacerbate the original reasons for flooding and damage.
The final proposal for the Knight Cities Challenge is due at the end of January 2016. We’ll find out if we win later in the year. I’m super excited to be a finalist, and can’t express the hope I have to work with Columbia on populating it with rain parks, engaging communities and expanding economic opportunities with a fresh, new perspective on stormwater management. I really hope, by the end of 2017, Columbia will be the first city in the country to have Rain Parks and show that rain is a barnstorm for a more awesome future.