Share My City - participation in water management

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Pressure on urban areas is increasing due to climate change and urbanisation. Flooding is a significant cause of climaterelated damage. Governments’ resources to deal with this issue are limited. Citizens will need to do their bit to make cities ‘climate-robust’.

For that reason, Witteveen+Bos developed the Share My City concept, a unique platform that allows citizens to use their postcode to check which solutions for infiltration, storage or reuse of rainwater are suitable for their specific home. For local authorities, we calculate what the potential is for rainwater storage in privately owned areas and we advise citizens on how they can contribute to the solution. This information will provide a local authority with a basis for policy choices. The platform is flexible and can be adapted to or integrated in other websites, and helps to make water storage on private premises concrete and easy to implement.

Share My City has been implemented in a so-called ‘Impact Project’ as part of the Spatial Adaptation Delta Programme of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. Pilot projects are ongoing in the city of Breda, and Witteveen+Bos is talking to a number of other local authorities interested in Share My City. Urban Water Consultant Stephanie Gijsbers devised the Share My City concept together with a number of colleagues. ‘Space in the Netherlands is limited, especially in cities. Only a small portion of that space is publicly owned. Utilising the non-public space for mitigating or preventing flooding and heat stress seems an obvious choice. The question is how to do that effectively. Share My City offers a potential answer to that question.’

Project leader Jacobiene Ritsema: ‘When we started with Share My City, participatory design was the main point of departure. Participation is often used as an instrument to inform people and in situations where individual interests are involved. However, what could be more logical than to have citizens endorse common goals and participate in a tangible way? If all home owners in an entire street take sufficient measures together, their street will no longer flood during heavy downpours and the likelihood of heat stress will be significantly reduced. Expensive measures taking up lots of public space will no longer be required. Furthermore, the neighbourhood becomes greener and it will lead to more contact between residents and improve social cohesion. There’s no downside!’

Colleagues have suggested that Share My City can be expanded to other disciplines. ‘In ecology, we’re very excited about this because space for biodiversity is also limited in public areas. Imagine being able to create a main ecological structure by linking a number of back gardens. That would be a breakthrough’, says Rob Nieuwkamer, ecological planning consultant.