In 2147 Trivandrum, Kerala, India was destroyed by a catastrophic monsoon storm which flooded the city. In the preceding years, changes in weather increased the severity of monsoons, bringing over 50 billion gallons of precipitation into Trivandrum annually. Due to over-population, more natural land was used for buildings and roads creating excessive stormwater runoff. Instead of filtering into natural aquifers, the water flooded the city, collecting pollution and emptying it into the Indian Ocean. The depleted aquifer created water shortages during drought season.
Due to severe droughts, it became imperative for the citizens of Trivandrum to work together to create a new city named Hara Barsatville (“green rain”) that would manage stormwater effectively. A group of engineers named ECOSTORM (Engineers Creating Original Solutions to Optimize Rain Management) was founded to design a green, sustainable city that would alleviate flash floods and store water for use during droughts. The new design allows future generations to remain in the city and prosper as a community.
Today in 2349, Hara Barsatville has a unique stormwater system that works on a city-wide level directing stormwater into natural aquifers. In order to accomplish this, ECOSTORM eliminated impervious surfaces and redesigned the city to maximize Greenspaces. The Greenspaces are composed of native plants and Haravines; a succulent, foot friendly vine invented by ECOSTORM Bioengineers.
The Haravines are used to equalize moisture levels of the soil creating an optimal environment so rainwater will soak into the ground instead of collect during flash floods. The plant has a semi-permeable membrane which absorbs and releases water naturally based on osmotic pressure. They also have long roots that infiltrate the soil creating natural canals allowing water to flow through the soil and into the aquifer.
To eliminate impervious surfaces, Hara Barsatville’s public transportation system is levitated. Previous roads were refurbished in a road-to-trail initiative using permeable concrete specially designed with voids. Rather than staying on the surface and collecting excessive road pollutants, the water absorbs into the ground. Between the Haravines and permeable concrete, more rainwater is allowed to penetrate the ground into the natural aquifers helping sustain water quality and promote water conservation.
One of the tradeoffs of using Haravines and permeable concrete is the required cost and maintenance. The pores in the permeable concrete require cleaning and the Haravines must be cultivated. Specialized jobs have been created to address these issues. Civil Engineers routinely monitor and maintain the permeable cement and Bioengineers research and grow Haravines. To avoid the risk of Haravine monoculture, ECOSTORM uses other native plants in the Greenscaping such as teak and bamboo trees to provide diversity.
Rainwater from Greenspaces and permeable concrete is filtered naturally through the soil before reaching the aquifer. Once water reaches the natural aquifer, it is pumped to the centralized Water Treatment and Distribution Center (WTDC Headquarters) through solar-powered wells. From there water is screened for contamination and distributed throughout the city. Water is monitored by SaCoS (Salt and Contaminant Sensors, built by NanoElectrical Engineers) for bacteria and soil salination from salt water intrusion since Hara Barsatville is close to the ocean. For back-up, ECOSTORM designed a purification system (standard treatment train) with sensors to detect contamination.
While most of the rainwater seeps into aquifers, ECOSTORM Hydro-Engineers also created an underground collection system named RAPIDS (Rainwater Accumulation Purification and Integrated Distribution System) to control runoff from infrastructure. Building runoff and gray water from businesses and homes are directed to the RAPIDS in tubes. The RAPIDS are made of H2 Gel, a hydrophilic/hydrophobic, viscoelastic, amorphous nanogel that expands and contracts when pressure is applied. NanoElectrical Engineers designed Namos (NanoMoisture Sensors) to regulate the water level in the natural aquifers and control the RAPIDS. During a drought, the H2 Gel becomes hydrophobic and water is released into the aquifer. When the natural aquifers is full the H2 Gel remains hydrophilic
Gray water is pre-filtered through indoor bio-swales before entering the RAPIDS. RoCoS (Robot Compost Collectors) collect the pre-filtered waste and transport it to the Haravine Greenhouse to be used for fertilization. Homes are also built with green-roofs and excess water is directed towards the RAPIDS. In the RAPIDS, water is purified, stored and then used to recharge the natural aquifers during droughts. This system prevents the natural aquifers from hydro-depletion, ensuring that residents always have a supply of potable water.
ECOSTORM faced designed challenges such as extreme droughts and rigidity of the Gel. If both the natural aquifer and RAPIDS are depleted, ECOSTORM designed a back-up desalination plant connected to the Indian Ocean that makes the salt water potable. Additionally, H2 gel is designed to remain rigid preventing sinkholes during droughts. To prevent overflowing and tearing during monsoon season, the Gel is viscoelastic and expands to support flooding.
Another challenge resolved by ECOSTORM was housing. Because of monsoon flooding, homes were damaged frequently. To prevent this and reduce housing costs, the Civil Engineers modified Hara Barastville’s infrastructure. Homes with green-roofs are built on hydraulic pistons that rise with the increased rains and return to the ground when water dissipates. This efficient and sustainable solution provides more Greenspaces, therefore reducing the amount of concrete surfaces.
To help reduce energy costs and support a growing population, all other buildings are elevated skyscrapers called “Isos”. The buildings are shaped like inverted triangles and supported on stilts. This unique shape allows for Greenspace underneath the buildings as well as green-roofs. The greenscaping reflects sunlight and reduces the Heat Island Effect which helps minimize the severity of monsoons. One tradeoff of the “Isos” is accessibility. ECOSTORM addressed this concern with the levitated public transportation system available to all citizens through IPalm communication devices.
To ensure opportunities for generations to come, the city implemented a community outreach program. The program teaches water conservation and encourages young students to become engineers and continue designing innovative stormwater and runoff management methods.
Using Greenspaces, permeable cement, RAPIDS, hydraulically-lifted houses and “Isos” ECOSTORM has successfully created a green, sustainable city that provides citizens with a fabulous place for future generations.