Canoes on the Lamprey River, NH. Photo R Moir

Slowing Water for Greener Neighborhoods

Rob Moir
8 min readDec 2, 2022


Climate Change has brought fiercer storms with devastating floods and long-lasting droughts that stressed and killed plants and animals. Once we controlled water. These days, water is in control and is harming us.

What if we changed our relationship with water to better understand its behavior? What if we were more respectful and asked, what does water want? Communities that have taken a less confrontational and more collaborative approach with water have created better places in which people are happier.

Louisville, Kentucky suffered a great deluge when 7.2 inches of rain fell in just 78 minutes. Flood waters that cataracted through properties at the University of Louisville caused $21 million in damages. The university responded and adapted with a variety of “green infrastructure” projects deployed to help keep stormwater runoff out of the combined sewer system.

The university slowed water with absorbing changes to the campus landscape. They disconnected downspouts, put out rain barrels, built cisterns, installed vegetated roofs, and built rain gardens and bioswales to facilitate groundwater recharge through infiltration. Pervious pavement and permeable pavers replaced impervious surfaces in lots, roadways, plazas, and sidewalks. For remaining hard surfaces and fast runoff areas, large underground infiltration basins were installed.

The University of Louisville gained a better understanding of sustainable water management. The university is now diverting about 72 million gallons of stormwater every year, has a greener campus, and should never again suffer damages during rainstorms.

Farmers in Watsonville, California, irrigate strawberries, artichokes, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, raspberries, and natural plants with water pumped up from the aquifer beneath their fields. Trouble was the lens of water in the ground was shrinking and salt water from Monterey Bay was intruding.

In response to the over-pumping problem, California created the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency to charge water users for the groundwater they drew in hopes that they would use less water. Still, the groundwater diminished.

With a better understanding of water, PVWMA paid farmers to run their irrigation pumps backwards to…



Rob Moir

Rob Moir, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Ocean River Institute and writes Global Warming Solutions IE-PAC newsletter.