What Are the Best Strategies for Real Estate Development in Areas Prone to Drought?

April 18, 2024

It’s a complex issue but, in simple terms, the dilemma is how to balance the need for housing and infrastructure development with the pivotal need to protect our precious water resources. Drought, climate change, and the risk of flooding have become increasingly important considerations in real estate development. The strategies implemented will have profound impacts on the quality of life for residents, public health, and the sustainability of the environment.

A Green Approach to Real Estate Development

The integration of green infrastructure into real estate development is a strategic approach to managing the challenges posed by drought and climate change. This refers to an interconnected network of green spaces that provide natural functions, such as managing stormwater, reducing flood risk, improving air and water quality, and creating public recreational areas.

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Green infrastructure can take various forms – from parks and gardens to green rooftops and rain gardens. They are designed to absorb and filter rainwater, reducing the amount of stormwater runoff and minimizing the risk of flooding. This strategy also conserves water by reducing the demand on the public water supply system, making it a viable approach for areas prone to drought.

One of the strategies is to incorporate drought-resistant landscaping, also known as xeriscaping. This involves the use of native plants that require minimal watering, thereby conserving water while maintaining aesthetic appeal.

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Water Management for Sustainable Development

The increasing frequency of extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, has highlighted the importance of effective water management in real estate development. This includes methods to conserve water, reduce the demand on the public water supply, and protect the quality of water resources.

Rainwater harvesting is a practice that collects and stores rainwater for reuse on-site, reducing reliance on the public water supply. It can be used for purposes such as irrigation, flushing toilets, and even for drinking, provided it’s adequately treated.

Efficient irrigation systems, such as drip irrigation or the use of efficient sprinkler technologies, can greatly reduce the amount of water wasted. These systems deliver water directly to the plants’ roots, reducing evaporation and ensuring the water is used where it’s most needed.

Climate-Adaptive Building Design

In the face of climate change, building design must adapt to withstand extreme weather events, including periods of prolonged drought. Climate-adaptive design is about creating structures that can tolerate varying weather conditions, helping to reduce the risk of damage and improve the resilience of the development.

Elements of climate-adaptive design include the use of materials that resist heat and minimize water usage. For example, cool roofing materials can reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat, reducing the need for air conditioning and conserving energy.

Another aspect is incorporating design features that promote natural ventilation, reducing the need for mechanical cooling systems, which consume a significant amount of water and energy.

Disaster Risk Reduction in Development Planning

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is a systematic approach to identifying, assessing, and reducing the risks of disaster. In the context of real estate development, DRR involves taking steps to minimize the vulnerability of the development and its inhabitants to disasters such as droughts and floods.

This can involve a range of measures, from careful site selection to avoid flood-prone areas to the inclusion of water-saving technologies in building design. It also involves the development of disaster response plans, which outline the actions to be taken in the event of a disaster to protect life and property.

Implementing DRR strategies in real estate development can have significant benefits, from reducing the potential damage and disruption caused by disasters to improving the resiliency of communities.

Public-Private Partnerships for Water Security

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) can play a key role in promoting water security in the face of drought and climate change. PPPs involve collaboration between the public and private sectors to finance and implement solutions to common challenges.

In the context of real estate development, PPPs can facilitate the implementation of water management strategies, conservation initiatives, and the integration of green infrastructure. For example, a PPP could involve a real estate developer working with a local government to establish a community rainwater harvesting system.

PPPs can bring significant benefits, including leveraging private sector expertise and resources, fostering innovation, and promoting sustainable practices. However, they require careful planning and management to ensure they deliver positive outcomes for all stakeholders.

Incorporating Smart Technology in Water Management

Integrating smart technology into real estate development can significantly improve water management and conservation, especially in areas prone to drought. Smart technologies offer the ability to monitor, control, and optimize water use in real-time, thereby reducing wastage and ensuring efficient use of water resources.

One such technology is the smart meter, a device that provides detailed information on water use in real-time. It helps identify leaks or excessive water use, enabling timely action to be taken to conserve water. Moreover, these devices can be linked to smartphone applications, allowing real-time monitoring and control of water consumption.

Another smart technology is the use of sensors in irrigation systems. These sensors detect the moisture levels in the soil and relay this information to the irrigation system, which then adjusts the amount of water supplied to the plants. This not only ensures optimal watering of plants but also significantly reduces water wastage.

Additionally, the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology can aid in the identification and mapping of water resources, flood-prone areas, and areas of water scarcity. This data can be used to inform the planning and design of real estate development, ensuring that water resources are adequately protected and efficiently utilized.

Incorporating smart technology in water management can thus contribute to the development of sustainable and resilient real estate, even in areas prone to drought.

Green Infrastructure: A Solution for Stormwater Management

Stormwater management is a crucial aspect of real estate development in drought-prone areas. Proper management of stormwater can prevent flooding, protect water quality, and contribute to water conservation efforts. A key strategy for effective stormwater management is the use of green infrastructure.

Green infrastructure refers to natural or semi-natural systems that manage stormwater by mimicking natural hydrological processes. These can include options like rain gardens, permeable pavements, and bioswales, which absorb rainwater, slowing its flow and reducing the risk of flooding.

Besides, these systems filter out pollutants, improving the quality of the stormwater and preserving the integrity of our water bodies. They also soak up excess rainwater and allow it to percolate into the ground, recharging groundwater and maintaining the water balance.

Moreover, green infrastructure provides additional benefits, including enhancing urban aesthetic, providing habitat for wildlife, and offering recreational spaces for communities. They also help to mitigate the impacts of climate change by reducing urban heat island effect and sequestering carbon.

Green infrastructure, therefore, offers a multi-functional solution for stormwater management, making it an essential part of sustainable real estate development.


In conclusion, the challenges posed by drought and climate change necessitate innovative strategies and solutions in real estate development. A comprehensive approach that encompasses green infrastructure, effective water management, climate-adaptive building design, disaster risk reduction, and public-private partnerships can contribute to the development of sustainable and resilient real estate in drought-prone areas.

Incorporating smart technology in water management can lead to significant improvements in water efficiency and conservation. Furthermore, green infrastructure offers a multi-functional solution for stormwater management, contributing to water conservation and quality preservation.

However, the success of these strategies requires careful planning, management, and collaboration among various stakeholders. Ultimately, the goal is to strike a balance between development needs and the imperative to conserve water resources, ensuring the long-term sustainability and resilience of our communities.