St. Petersburg: Grassroots Low-Cost, Low-Impact Flood Defense

Located on the outskirts of St. Petersburg, Novoye Devyatkino faces many of the challenges other Northern European cities face under climate change scenarios. In response to increasingly frequent and severe cloudburst events, Novoye Devyatkino opted for a Low-Impact Development (LID) flood-protection system that mimics natural processes to protect water quality and aquatic habitats as well as reduce flood water volumes. Instead of adding to the traditional storm management systems, the city designed a “net” of rain gardens to capture surface runoff and filter it slowly back into the groundwater.

35% reduction in cost compared to traditional drainage systems


Implementing a LID method of design allowed Novoye Devyatkino to work with nature, only planting local and non-invasive plants, and helping to restore local ecosystems in surrounding neighborhoods. The result is a pleasant, recreational space for the majority of the year and a natural flood-defense system when rainfall intensifies – all at a small cost covered by the local budget.

The challenge

In a country that has not ratified the Paris Agreement, grassroots adaptation schemes such as this could prove to be crucial for coping with rainfall events predicted to increase in frequency and intensity over the coming decades. The city is already sharing its experiences, and is co-developing plans for more rain gardens with other Russian cities.


Economic Natural LID flood defenses require little maintenance compared with aging stormwater drainage systems requiring regular cleaning and filter replacements.

Environmental The rain gardens contain local and non-invasive species, which bolsters biodiversity and protects natural fauna and flora, whilst also naturally filtering surface runoff water.

Social Residents were heavily involved in the development and design of the rain gardens, and wanted to maximize the potential for recreational space.

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