How sprawl worsens the impacts of drought & how smart growth can help... | green streets | Scoop.it
Our country is experiencing its worst drought in over half a century. Sprawling land use is not the cause of drought, but it can exacerbate drought's impacts in at least two ways.

 

If you live in the US and have been outside lately, chances are you don’t need to be reminded that this is the hottest summer many of us can remember, and also one of the driest, following a relatively dry winter and spring.

As written earlier this week on CNN, our country is experiencing its worst drought in over 50 years. At least 55 % of the US was in moderate-to-severe drought last month, and things have only gotten worse, as June 2012 ranks as the third-driest month nationally in 118 years. Among consequences: 38 percent of the corn planted in the 18 leading corn-producing states is considered to be in poor or very poor condition, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

I’m not naïve enough to claim that the way we have built suburbs over the last few decades is a proximate cause of drought, but sprawling land use can exacerbate its impacts in at least a couple ways. First, the large-lot residential development characteristic of sprawl uses significantly more water than do neighborhoods built to a more walkable scale...

The second way in which sprawl exacerbates the impacts of drought is by with more pavement around watersheds, which send billions of gallons of rainwater into streams and rivers as polluted runoff, rather than into the soil to replenish groundwater...