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Lodz

The upper Lodka River

The City of Łódź is the third biggest city of Poland. In 1820 it has been established an industrial settlement due to its rich resources required for textile industry, namely dense forests, abundance of water (22 small and fast flowing rivers), and mostly state ownership of the land. At that time it was inhabited by 800 people. Only ten years later this number increased to 4 thousands, to reach 40 thousands in 1865 and half million by 1914. 

Such rapid development towards a textile industry capital of Central and Eastern Europe, supplying markets in Russia and Asia, had strong negative impact on its natural resources and quality of life. Soon industrial pollution contaminated rivers and the only source of potable water became wells. Those also got contaminated with time. The only choice to protect people health and to reduce flooding risk to infrastructure was channelization of rivers. They have been merged with underground stormwater and sewage systems.

According to climate change scenarios, Łódź is located in the drought zone characterizing with higher frequency of spring and summer rain shortages and simultaneous increase of average spring and autumn temperatures. Climate change, urbanization, and water overuse in the past caused serious drop of groundwater level and destroyed source areas of city’s rivers. Many of them, including the Łódka river, are currently supplied mostly by stormwater overflows, what creates both water quality and hydraulic problems. In order to restore water cycle in the city, the stormwater and sewage systems need to be separated from rivers, while rainwater has to be stored and purified in the landscape. Thus the regulatory ecosystem services should be strengthen across the City. Accomplished in 2018, climate adaptation plans foresaw increasing role of Nature-Based Solutions, especially rain gardens, detention and retension basins and reservoirs in water management.

Ecohydrology was definied in a frame of the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP) as a transdisciplinary and applied science. Its foundation is understanding of a mutual relationships between hydrological and biological processes at the catchment scale. Already in 1997 Ecohydrology postulated using ecosystem properties to achieve water quality improvement, biodiversity enhancement and sustainable development. In this sense the concept was far ahead of its times raising an issue of nature-based solutions as a cost-efficient approach.

The Ecohydrology approach is based upon the assumption that the sustainable water resources management can be achieved by:

  • restoring and maintaining evolutionarily established processes of water and nutrient circulation and energy flows at a catchment scale;
  • enhancing of carrying capacity of catchment against human impact based on evolutionarily established resistance and resilience of its ecosystems to stress;
  • using ecosystem properties as water management tools.

The approach was firstly introduced to the City of Lodz as a big scale, integrated thinking, in 2005, under the umbrella of FP6 project SWITCH: Managing water for the city of the future (http://www.switchurbanwater.eu). Then the stakeholders of the city forming Learning Alliance group formulated the strategy for Łódź 2038: Łódź uses its water wisely. ATENAS builds upon the same approach and collaborates with LA, moving activities from river valleys to the urban fabrics.

 

The Blue-Green Network (Zalewski et al. 2012) is a project embedded in the context of the Łódź natural system that integrates and extends previous planning documents concerning the green architecture in city. The project draws on the fact that the city is located between the Vistula and Odra watersheds and there are many small streams within its boundaries. The system of rivers and adjacent green areas as well as green ring around Łódź creates the basis for a functional, economical, logical and the user-friendly arrangement of urban space that provides multiple benefits to residents. These benefits include: enhanced stormwater retention and purification, the prevention of flooding and drought; improved microclimate, air quality and decreased risk of allergy and asthma; improved resistance and reduced maintenance costs of urban greenery; space for recreation and green public transport; increased flexibility of the city in adapting to global climate change; improved attrac-tiveness of urban space to residents and investors.

In order to protect, sustain and develop BGN for efficient water, biodiversity and climate regulation, it needs to be completed with green backyards, frontyards, squares and green streets, which increase integrity of the network securing flow of ecosystem services from delivery to recipient sites. ATENAS, through water flow modelling, analysis of administrative, legal and societal barriers and needs will enable filling the gaps in BGN system.

ATENAS approached a number of city actors, starting from scientists and decision makers, through activists and local leaders, marginalized communities, and ending with investors, to gather the opinions about existing blue-green infrastructure, possibilities to enhance its potential and area, and range of opportunities it may create. We mapped communities of both knowledge and interest, identifying the synergies. ATENAS has also identify spaces where community building can come together with participatory actions towards strengthening ecohydrological services with implemented NBS.

The actions will concentrate on the upper catchment of the Łódka River, being an icon of the city and a symbol of its industrial past.

 

Helsinki

Vantaa

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Lyon

Yzeron river

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