Flickr user Eric Fischer
The president's State of the Union and the governor's State of the State both addressed resiliency as a major issue.
Both President Obama in his State of the Union address and Gov. Quinn in his State of the State discussed climate change—in particular how communities, regions and government agencies are responding to new, different and often more extreme weather patterns. At the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), the Chicago region’s ability to provide critical public services such as transportation, communications, water and flood management in the face of droughts, megastorms and temperature spikes is something we have begun to tackle, most recently at part one of a roundtable series on resiliency.
If this polar-vortex winter has taught us anything, it is the need to be prepared. MPC is helping Chicago-area communities and governments rethink how our region can research, plan for, design, build and operate smarter systems. Certainly investing in more efficient, adaptable water and transportation infrastructure will help lessen the impact of severe weather events. For the past year, the City of Chicago has been upgrading water pipes, in part through funding from the Governor’s Clean Water Initiative, to be more resilient. Similar improvements should be made to all of our infrastructure to address very basic needs—such as worsening wear and tear caused by frigid temperatures and intense heat—and to incorporate new, more intelligent technologies.
As the president discussed, investing in infrastructure pays significant dividends: improving people’s commutes, preparing cities and regions to withstand changing weather and ultimately benefitting our economy. As he pointed out, “First-class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure.” Investing in and rebuilding the region’s infrastructure will help put us on a track for growth. And MPC, through our work on housing and transportation and the sustainable management of our water resources, is ensuring that we have the tools and strategies needed to tackle resiliency challenges and create a livable, prosperous region.
MPC’s work with stormwater management on the Milwaukee Avenue Green Development Corridor provided valuable lessons on homeowners’ personal investments in green infrastructure. In 2014, MPC is researching different incentive methods to persuade homeowners to do their part and reduce the amount of stormwater flooding our sewer systems—and basements.
“Resiliency” became a buzzword in 2013, but it has been a tenet of MPC since our inception in 1934. We accept the challenges laid out by both the president and the governor and look forward to working with our partners in 2014 to solve both our most pressing problems…and the problems of tomorrow.