Rediscovering Urban Rivers: Los Angeles and Beyond
A new exhibit hopes to raise public awareness of and support for efforts to revitalize and restore waterways running through cities, particularly in Sao Paulo and Los Angeles.
In recent decades there has been a growing global movement within city planning to beautify urban rivers partly by restoring some segments to a more natural state and by developing alternative uses along the banks. There have been similar efforts in the project’s two cases studies. In Los Angeles, the County Board of Supervisors adopted the 1996 River Master Plan, and the City of Los Angeles has developed the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan in the mid-2000s. These plans include efforts to reclaim some wetlands, create recreational opportunities, and encourage large-scale housing and commercial developments. The State of São Paulo developed a master plan for sewage collection and disposal in the mid-1980s and launched the Tietê River Project in 1991, which funded water treatment projects and made a commitment to stronger enforcement of existing emission standards.
Rediscovering Urban Rivers seeks to (1) document the urban impacts on the rivers, (2) review the plans to reclaim the rivers for new uses with a focus on which groups and neighborhoods will benefit, and (3) examinine the planning process to determine the extent of community participation. Urbanization in general has had adverse effects on rivers, such as paving over wetlands and floodplains for homes and businesses, and confining water flows to concrete channels. What is left of a river is heavily polluted by storm runoffs filled with trash, toxic chemicals, human and animal waste, other debris from the urbanized watershed, and from deliberate dumping by industries and individuals.
An important element of this movement is broad and well informed public discussion about the future of urban rivers. The project makes a contribution to this goal through a public exhibit based on fieldwork in Los Angeles and São Paulo. Check out the exhibit here.
Published: Wednesday, March 31, 2010