Water is the supporter of life, and its flows will find a way through our built environments no matter how much concrete we pour or metal piping we lay. With climate change rapidly and dramatically augmenting the threats of flooding and drought for more cities and communities, now is the time to respect water and the natural course it takes through our environments. Using the lens of Ecology, we can see clearly that our infrastructure is long overdue for a radical transformation that brings our built and natural environments back in line with the inexorable flow of water. 

Some leading engineers, planners and water management specialists are turning to nature as a guide as they seek solutions to help us build our societal resilience in this age of climatic upheavals. In this newsletter, we get an overview of the “slow water movement” with journalist and National Geographic Explorer Erica Gies; learn about water infrastructure planning and design with ecological engineer Erin English; and hear about the cutting edges of climate-proofing our cities and coasts with world-renowned Dutch flood control expert Henk Ovink. 

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Embracing Slow Water: Rediscovering the True Nature of Earth’s Lifeline

Winner of the Rachel Carson Award for Excellence in Environmental Journalism, Water Always Wins: Thriving in an Age of Drought and Deluge is a hopeful journey around the world and across time, illuminating better ways to live with water. Erica Gies introduces readers to the pioneering individuals driving what she terms the “slow water movement.” These visionaries pose a revolutionary question: What does water want? By delving into the inherent rhythms and desires of water, they challenge the prevailing notion of controlling it through concrete infrastructure. Instead, they advocate for a paradigm shift toward understanding and accommodating water’s natural inclinations within our human landscapes. 

Read an excerpt from Water Always Wins below and register for Bioneers 2024 to hear Gies’ keynote address about the slow water movement. 

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Navigating the Waters of Ecological Innovation: A Conversation with Erin English on Integrated Water Strategies and Biophilic Design

Water is a fundamental component intricately interwoven into the fabric of all our ecosystems, communities, and civilizations. As we grapple with the profound implications of climate change, urbanization, and unsustainable practices, the imperative to reimagine our relationship with water has never been more pressing. A key strategist in this pivotal paradigm shift is Erin English, a visionary leader in the field of Integrated Water Strategies. With a unique blend of expertise in chemical and environmental engineering, English embodies a passionate commitment to fostering innovation, sustainability, and ecological stewardship in water infrastructure planning and design.

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Erica Gies – The Slow Water Movement: How to Thrive in an Age of Drought and Deluge

Erica Gies, an independent journalist and National Geographic Explorer, has covered water, climate change, plants, and wildlife for Scientific American, The New York Times, bioGraphic, Nature, and other publications. She has received various honors for her work, including the Sierra Club’s Rachel Carson Award, Friends of the River’s California River Award, the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation’s Excellence in Journalism Award, and the Harvey Southam Lectureship at the University of Victoria. Register for Bioneers 2024 to hear Gies keynote presentation on the “slow water movement.”

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Welcome the Water: Climate-Proofing for Resilience | Henk Ovink 

In the face of global climate disruption, two billion people worldwide will be challenged by too much water and nearly another two billion by not enough. When you fight nature, you lose, says Henk Ovink, a designer, the Principal of Rebuild by Design, and the first ever Special Envoy for International Water Affairs for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He’s dramatically demonstrating on large scales how to shift our relationship to nature and to culture — and climate-proof our cities and coasts. Listen to Ovink discuss these concepts on the Bioneers podcast and learn more about his work by visiting Rebuild by Design

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Hoboken’s Resilience to Flooding: A Model for Climate Adaptation

When New York City floods, one might suspect that Hoboken, New Jersey, directly across the Hudson River, would also contend with flooding. Infrastructure, however, can make all the difference. In September of last year, New York City faced one of its wettest months in over a century, leading to severe flooding and disruptions. Hoboken showcased a different outcome, thanks to its innovative approach to handling stormwater runoff, notably influenced by initiatives such as Rebuild by Design.

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Now We Are Asking Nature to Solve the Problems We Created

With this explainer from Bay Nature about nature-based solutions, examine the ways we can use nature to solve some of our biggest societal challenges — such as climate-change-driven disasters, sea-level rise, the biodiversity crisis, drought, and extreme heat. 

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The Nonprofit San Francisco Public Press Reports on Sea Level Rise 

Check out this series of articles about sea level rise in the San Francisco Bay area by San Francisco Public Press. The San Francisco Public Press is a nonprofit, noncommercial news organization that publishes independent public-interest journalism about under-covered topics, with a focus on under-served audiences. Its local investigative and solutions reporting is available online, in a newspaper and on community radio station KSFP-FM. 

Read the series 

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