A project worthy of a new era’s PWA

January 20, 2009 § 6 Comments

First we let Seoul beat us to it when they removed a highway and daylighted the buried Cheongyecheong River.  And now London has gotten into the game.  Their efforts serve as inspiration, and hopefully will stoke energetic competition.

Vision for stream daylighing at Lafayette Park includes a range of uses and activities.

Vision for stream daylighing at Lafayette Park includes a range of uses and activities.

LA, we need the water quality filtering and groundwater recharge services of natural streams, and now is the time to develop a stream restoration program.  Not a pilot project, not fake creeklike diversion landscape feature(they’re great but we can do so much more), but a full-scale, methodical, visionary restoration program, of our native waters, for the enjoyment of all, humans and beasts alike.

We have parks all over the city with buried streams:  at Lafayette Park, Sycamore Grove, Lincoln Park, and Ladera County Park, to name a few.  Parks next to channels provide restorable floodplain space, making for example, the Arroyo Seco something of a slam dunk in terms of restorability. We also have areas in the midst of densification – that will need new parkland as the population increases.  Government visionaries: this is the moment to set aside land that truly serves multiple goals:  flood management, water quality, habitat, and open space.  Riparian zones provide all of that.

London doesn’t have the urgent need we have to conserve and reuse our water.  And yet they are inspired and moving forward.  We can too.

From the Guardian’s editorial page, January 8, 2009:

“Drowned puppies, stinking sprats all drenched in mud, dead cats and turnip-tops come tumbling down the flood” – Jonathan Swift’s A Description of a City Shower leaves no room to doubt that the 18th-century Fleet river was a horrid place. No wonder that it was soon buried, tidied away into a drain that gurgles its way from Hampstead to the Thames, passing close by the Guardian’s old offices in Farringdon, where on quiet evenings it could just be heard through a grating in the street outside. For centuries, all over Britain, urban improvement has demanded that watercourses be hidden. The toll of lost London rivers is famous, but every city has its hidden streams, such as the Cornbrook, the Irk and the Tib in Manchester. Now the tide is being reversed. Penned in by pipes and concrete, rivers, even hidden ones, are prone to flood; given space, they can be beautiful. In London, encouraged by the mayor and the Environment Agency, small sections of secret streams are being restored, among them the river Quaggy, which runs for 10 miles through south-east London. The Beam, the Cray, the Hogsmill and the Inglebourne are all being sought. Sadly there are no plans to reopen the city’s two big rivers, the Westbourne – which runs through the Serpentine and in a conduit across the platforms at Sloane Square tube station – and the Fleet. Cleaner now than in Swift’s day, it would make a magnificent sight, its banks restored, its flow carrying passengers on small barges quietly through the city.

Read all about it in this article:

Project launched to restore waterways buried under London | Environment | The Guardian .

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