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Stationarity Strategy

July 29, 2016

​Scientists have used an age old risk assesment concept called Stationarity.  This strategy involves a theory that certain things that contribute to floods,  do not,  change over time. 

This has been the approach many city/suburban planners used,  based on historical data. The climate is about the same,  land use is similiar, etc. ,  etc.,  etc. 

Flood risk was often based on a belief in magnitude and frequency of an event,  would repeat, just as it always had in the history logs. 

Michael Mann, a climate scientist who directs the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. “We know that heavy rainfall has increased dramatically in recent decades, as we expect it to based on fundamental atmospheric physics, combined with human-caused warming of the ocean and atmosphere.”

Warmer air holds more moisture. This increases at a rate of 4%  per degree Fahrenheit of warming.  The result are more frequent,  more intense,  rainfall events. 

Add in to the equation – land useage. Local cities want revenue through property taxes. Every open lot,  field,  meadow,  is expected to be developed.  Old zoning laws are dismissed,  in favor of  “variances”. It makes somebody wonder why are zoning laws existing,  just to have them tossed,  and reconfigured,  in search of revenue dollars. 

Once the asphalt and concrete are put on top of the grass/dirt,  the rain gets forced into the stormdrain system. This development scenario happened at an alarming rate – while the archaic stormwater system underground stayed the same for 1/2 a century. 

The stop gap,  band aid fix,  of building retention basins for sewage disposal,  was outgrown almost before it was completed.  Once built, it became an albatross around the neck of those stuck with Bond Payments for several decades. 

The phrase alludes to Samuel Taylor Coleridge ‘s poem “ The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” in which a sailor who shoots a friendly albatross is forced to wear its carcass around his neck as punishment.

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