This year in October, there was a huge typhoon hit the whole Kanto Area. When I went to the grocery shop to purchase food and other necessities, the shelves for all kinds of bottle water and bread were empty. Through the fear of residences in Tokyo, I realized that even big cities could be vulnerable encountering natural disasters. Luckily, most of the areas of Tokyo survived in this typhoon and the heavy rains following. But it raises the question, how mega cities like Tokyo deal with these kinds of crisis?

I happened to learn the theory about public goods and infrastructure construction in my Development class. As an example of a successful infrastructure project that protects public security, our professor reserved a tour of the Metropolitan Outer Area Underground Discharge Channel, 首都圏外郭放水路 in Japanese, in Saitama Prefecture. I have heard this place since couple of years ago. It is famous not only because it protected the capital of Japan and other areas around for lots of times from heavy rains, but also because it was the stage of lots of movies and TV shows.

Metropolitan Outer Area Underground Discharge Channel in Saitama Prefecture is a huge infrastructure project taking over a decade to complete totally. It consists of 5 water tanks in different sizes and a pressure adjusting channel, which is the only part open to the public. The length of this project is 6.3 km and it is completely underground. Compared with other cities in Saitama, according to the manager of this infrastructure operation team, the altitude of Kasukabe city is relatively low which made it often a stricken area of flood and typhoon. To protect the city and Tokyo as well, this project was launched in Kasukabe. Thanks to this infrastructure project, the city of Kasukabe could develop its local industry. Warehouses and factories were built and the local economy became more active than before.

During the heavy rain, this discharge channel gathers the water from the small rivers around this area and near Tokyo, stores it and after the water goes over a certain level inside the channel, it will be pumped into Edo River which is a big river in Tokyo with well-built embankment along it. The place I visited was the office building of the control room and other daily operation located above the pressure-adjusting channel. It has a very lovely nickname  “龍Q館”. It was chosen from hundreds of ideas raised by the public. In the ancient legend, dragon is the animal in charge of rain, lightening and thunders. Q also has a similar pronunciation with the Dragon Palace, the ball dragons always take with, forever in Japanese and AQUA in English as well. The name of 龍Q館 shows the capability of this infrastructure project to control the damage of water disasters and protect the public security.

This field trip gave me an opportunity to see something invisible in daily life but very important to the stability to our city. It was breathtaking to image the scene when huge amounts of water floating through these huge water tanks and channels. Lots of us took the stable life in big cities for granted, but the truth is that lots of people are making efforts behind the scene. To launch such a huge infrastructure, money is not the only inevitable element, the wisdom of architects and engineers, efforts of the residents, and other compromises are also needed to ensure the success of the project. It also builds an example of how infrastructure construction is related to the development of the whole area. I think when we enjoy the happiness of the life in a big city, we should always remember the people who support it in the back and thank for their efforts to make our life better.

T.L (Student Staff Leader)