Ocean Friendly Gardens, rethinking our urban development to address water pollution


Is rainwater a source of pollution?

Aquatic environments are often polluted downstream of urbanized areas. Water runoff is responsible for 85% of rainwater pollution.

Because of soil sealing, the rainwater cannot seep correctly into the ground. This sealing is due to the floor-covering by materials such as concrete or asphalt, blocking the way to water and air.

With the accentuation of thundery weather caused by an increasing urbanization in coastal areas, the sewerage systems are regularly saturated. Water treatment procedures can no longer work efficiently and many untreated pollutants (hydrocarbons, pesticides, fertilizers, heavy metals, etc) are released and contaminate marine environments. The risk of flooding is also strongly increasing, therefore we need to rethink our water management on a global and local scale, to prevent such events. 


The Ocean Friendly Garden Program is dealing with multiple challenges focusing on water retention, soil sealing and biodiversity conservation. Thus, different techniques are used to improve the water management of a piece of land. They can be based on the characteristics of the land, such as its morphology, its vegetation, or the permeability of its soil. Depending on the natural slope, water can be evacuated more easily to chosen areas for its storage and infiltration. Then it can then be stored for various uses such as watering, thanks to tanks, collectors, or cisterns. This harvested water, limits the volume of runoff.

For a better infiltration, filtering vegetated strips, retaining terraces or vegetated roofs can be used as part of a global process to revegetate our spaces. In addition, reducing soil sealing thanks to porous and permeable floor-covering allows a better infiltration and water management.

To limit the impacts of increasingly violent climatic events, it is necessary to rethink our relationship with our direct environment and this requires better water management. 


Through Ocean Friendly Garden citizens can be part of a collaborative process. As the current scientific events reminds us of the necessity to adapt to address the effects of climate change, OFG offers a path to build a more sustainable environment in our cities. Each project involves actors from various background to redraw our landscapes. Citizens are mobilized through educational levers aiming at raising awareness on the topics of soil sealing, detailed in the previous part. Experts and professionals intervene to bring solutions once the problem is known and understood to concretely invest in sustainable lands. This wide public project brings an efficient and possible way to limit our impacts on our close environment. Whether it is compagnies, schools or the public sector, this project is part of a cross-cutting approach to enhance and green a space or a territory.

The headquarters of Surfrider Europe will house its own Ocean Friendly Garden, to align with its environmental protection policy. Thus, even in a commercial urbanized area, it is quite possible to propose this kind of project and development. Building an OFG that is responsible and coherent with its surroundings promises to create its own dynamics within this particular eco-system. 

To be continued…

Discover the Ocean Friendly Garden project

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