From Jason King’s Landscape+Urbanism site



“Rendering of Houston wetland channel showing ecological wetland, conservation areas, and recreation trails” p. 90-91

An amazing resource posted on ASLA’s The Dirt (here) focuses on Design Guidelines for Urban Wetlands, specifically what shapes are optimal for performance. Using simulations and physical testing to investigate hydraulic performance the team from the Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism (LCAU) at MIT. Led by Heidi Nepf, Alan Berger and Celina Balderas Guzman along with a team including Tyler Swingle, Waishan Qiu, Manoel Xavier, Samantha Cohen, and Jonah Susskind, the project aims to have a practice application in design guidance informed by research. From their site:js_plan_typical-01

“Although constructed wetlands and detention basins have been built for stormwater management for a long time, their design has been largely driven by hydrologic performance. Bringing together fluid dynamics, landscape architecture, and urban planning, this research project explored how these natural treatment systems can be designed as multi-functional urban infrastructure to manage flooding, improve water quality, enhance biodiversity, and create amenities in cities.”
Starting in the beginning by outlining ‘The Stormwater Imperative’, the above goal is explained in more depth, and issues with how we’ve tackled these problems are also discussed, such as civil-focused problem solving or lack of scalability, but also explore the potential for how, through intentional design, these systems “can create novel urban ecosystems that offer recreation, aesthetic, and ecological benefits.” (1)


The evolution that has resulted in destruction of wetlands through urbanization, coupled with deficient infrastructure leads to issues like flooding, water pollution due to the loss of the natural holding and filtering capacity of these systems and the increased flows. However, as pointed out by the authors, this can be an opportunity, as constructed wetlands “can partially restore some lost ecosystem services, especially in locations where wetlands do not currently exist.” (5)

The modeled flow patterns are also interesting, showing the differentiation from fast, regular, slow flows, along with any Eddy’s that were shown in dye testing using the flumes.

Read More

Check it out and see what you think.  The report is available as a online version via ISSUU or via PDF download from the LCAU site, where there are also some additional resources.  All images in this post are from these reports and should be credited to the LCAU team.


This is why the price of water needs to go up substantially

Sungula Nkabinde on Moneyweb Today :


“Proposed revisions to South Africa’s water pricing strategy are as broad as they are complex, but what is clear is that water will become significantly more expensive in the future.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWAS) has gazetted a draft of the revised water pricing strategy, which outlines a theoretical framework that would engender a fully functioning water eco system. The 2013 document has led the discussion on how South Africa can reduce the financial burden on municipalities, which are required by law to provide water to those who cannot afford to pay for it, by transferring the full cost of delivering water services onto users. They will  incur a raft of charges that will see water pricing reflect the level of water scarcity in the country.

Domestic and commercial users will pay for charges related to planning, capital costs, operation and maintenance, depreciation, and future infrastructure build on government water schemes. A new polluter pays principle will also be imposed to ensure users discharging water containing waste into a water resource or onto land pay an additional amount.

According to the DWAS, South Africa ranks as one of the 30 driest countries in the world with an average rainfall of about 40% less than the annual world average rainfall.

Even though the implications could potentially be disastrous for an already struggling economy, the consequences of not the addressing the water security problem could be worse. The revised pricing strategy seeks to incentivise more efficient use of water, and ensure the much needed upgrade to the country’s water infrastructure is properly funded.

Municipalities struggling with poor billing systems, significant water leakage and high rates of non-revenue water (water provided for which no income is received) are a big part of the reason why there significant capital is required to resolve the water crisis in South Africa.

Sanlam economist Arthur Kamp says it’s not possible to give a definitive, or even a ball-park figure of how much the cost of water is going to increase by, saying price structures are going to be quite complicated because it is going to be a hybrid model. There will be a wide range of charges that will be determined on a national level, other times sectoral level.

Says Kamp: “What (the draft revised water pricing strategy) does is it gives one the flavour of what they’re trying to achieve. There is a lot of infrastructure coming and we can’t afford it so the user is going to pay. And I don’t think anybody is going to dispute that water is a scarce resource and that tariffs need to reflect that”.

Read More

Sasaki Associates, with RDG and AES, Wins Water Works Parkitecture Competition

From Bustler :  a review of a project reintegrating people, water and nature which is both educational and engaging – funky use of fashionable stand up paddle boards and  representation which is viewed as if we are navigating the brochure and looking out on the scene must have played apart in winning over the judges:

Des Moines Water Works, working in partnership with Iowa State University Department of Landscape Architecture, recently announced that Sasaki Associates, with RDG Planning & Design and Applied Ecological Services (AES), is the winning team of the Water Works Parkitecture Competition.

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

The Parkitecture competition, aptly named for its emphasis on the fundamental role landscape architecture and design play in re-envisioning Water Works Park, began June 2011.  The international design competition entailed the creation of a conceptual plan for Water Works Park to form dynamic relationships between the river, the watershed, and the community.The competition sought proposals to integrate the ecological and social function of a park and river into a unified landscape; to inspire the community and to generate discussion about watershed issues/best practices; and offer innovative design solutions to address ecological and recreational challenges specific to Water Works Park.

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

The design team and Des Moines Water Works will begin a concept validation process which will address specific issues and include public outreach. It is expected that a majority of the funds for implementation of the vision plan will be obtained through private fundraising and will not be borne by water rate payers.

Throughout the design process, the design team interviewed citizens, community leaders, focus groups, and stakeholders, and will continue engaging the public throughout the master plan and implementation process of the park

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

Sasaki collaborated with Des Moines-based RDG Planning & Design and Minneapolis-based Applied Ecological Services on the competition entry and will continue to do so through implementation. Collectively, the team proffers progressive design strategy, creative vision, acute regional understanding, and technical prowess.

Read More

Thinking Water Part II: Water, Energy, and Climate Challenges Facing the U.S. West: A Briefing for Designers,

Hosted by the Arid Lands Institute in partnership with UCLA’s Institute of the environment and Sustainability (IoES) is a half-day seminar and briefing for designers on the critical water challenges facing the U.S. West.


On October 29, designers, scientists, and researchers will come together at Woodbury
University in Burbank for Water, Energy, and Climate Challenges Facing the U.S. West: A
Briefing for Designers. The half-day seminar tackles the critical water challenges facing the U.S.

WHAT: Water, Energy, and Climate Challenges Facing the U.S. West: A Briefing for Designers
WHEN: Saturday, October 29th, 2011 9:30 am —12:30 pm
WHERE: Ahmanson Main Space, Woodbury School of Architecture
Woodbury University
7500 Glenoaks Boulevard
Burbank, CA 91510
COST: The event is free and open to the public.


Water, Energy, and Climate Challenges Facing the U.S. West: A Briefing for Designers is hosted
by the Arid Lands Institute (ALI) at Woodbury University in partnership with UCLA’s Institute
of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES). The event is sponsored by the U.S. Department
of Housing + Urban Development/Office of University Partnerships and is supported by the
California Architectural Foundation (CAF), and the American Institute of Architects/California
Council (AIA/CC). Woodbury University School of Architecture is a proud supporter of the ALI’s
mission and activities.

The future of development across the western United States is intricately linked to the
availability of water. A precious, but often overlooked and misunderstood resource, water
impacts policy, the environment, and economics. Addressing these issues, a team of scientists
and researchers from UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability will present
findings, brief attendees, and answer questions on water, energy, climate change, and strategic
design opportunities for a water-smart future. “We are delighted that UCLA’s IoES is joining us in
this effort” said Peter Arnold, architect and ALI co-director. “Design without science is folly.”

Presentation topics include: the limitations posed by energy-intensive water delivery systems;
projected impacts of climate change on western water resources; myths and realities of
localized stormwater management, including case studies; and the challenges, both regional and
global, of managing water in an urbanized world.

Continue reading

ONE PRIZE: Water as the 6th Borough – Winners Announced

Terreform ONE has announced the winners of ONE PRIZE: Water as the 6th Borough, the open international design competition to envision the sixth borough of New York City.
ONE PRIZE is an annual design and science award to promote green design in cities. The 2011 edition turned its focus to New York and its waterways, re-imagining recreational space, public transportation, local industry, and native environment in the city. Contestants proposed designs for the NYC BLUE NETWORK and the E3NYC CLEAN TECH WORLD EXPO by expanding waterborne transportation and linking the five boroughs with a series of green transit hubs as well as providing in-water recreation, water-oriented educational, cultural and commercial activities, and demonstrations of clean technology and renewable energy.

Detail from the submission board of the competition-winning concept NY Parallel Networks

Click above image to view slideshow
Detail from the submission board of the competition-winning concept NY Parallel Networks

The jury panel included Amanda Burden, New York City Planning Commissioner; Charles McKinney, Principal Urban Designer NYC Parks Department; Michael Colgrove of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); Helena Durst of the Durst Organization; Matthias Hollwich of Architizer;  Bjarke Ingels of BIG; Roland Lewis of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance; Roberta Weisbrod of Sustainable Ports; Kate Ascher of Buro Happold Consulting; James Corner of Field Operations; David Gouverneur of the University of Pennsylvania; and Victoria Marshall of Parsons School of Design.

Prizes were given to many young architects and designers who submitted the four selected entries. The grand prize winners, Ali Fard and Ghazal Jafari are both recent graduates of the University of Toronto. The three honorable mention teams are the Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design led by Kevin Bone, an entrepreneurial design practice RUX Design, New York, and a group of recent graduates from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Ali Fard and Ghazal Jafari, Canada

NY Parallel Networks, stood out to the jury with a synthesis of economy, environment, transportation, and recreation in a versatile, attractive proposal. A scaleable, flexible design, Parallel Networks remained compellingly feasible with an exciting public space integrated with energy production, water cleansing, and habitat creation.

Commissioner Burden praised NY Parallel Networks with these words, “The winning entry, NY Parallel Networks, is very rich proposal that takes on all of the major themes of the City’s new waterfront plan, Vision 2020. The design includes an exciting public recreational space in the Bronx integrated with energy production, water cleansing, and enhancement of natural habitats. In addition, the proposal referenced the needs of the maritime industry, and included boat tie up and maritime services on an artificial reef.”

WINNER: NY PARALLEL NETWORKS by Ali Fard and Ghazal Jafari, Canada

WINNER: NY PARALLEL NETWORKS by Ali Fard and Ghazal Jafari, Canada

WINNER: NY PARALLEL NETWORKS by Ali Fard and Ghazal Jafari, Canada

WINNER: NY PARALLEL NETWORKS by Ali Fard and Ghazal Jafari, Canada

ONE PRIZE’s multifaceted design brief brought in a wide variety of proposals, and the jury selected three honorable mentions to represent the three general groups of entries: Developing water-borne culture; Envisioning a comprehensive transportation system; and addressing intensifying environmental challenges.

Read More on Bustler

Architectures of Hybrid Migrations (via Free Association Design (F.A.D.))

I wonder how this type of advanced engineering science meshes with the worlds of migration and how the determination of which fish to allow to migrate and which to reject is not modifying the system that it is trying to preserve?

Architectures of Hybrid Migrations Although very likely not submitted to this year's Animal Architecture Awards, the design for the "Selective Water Withdrawal Tower" on The Deschutes River could have been a candidate for the prize, or at minimum, a poignant contribution to forums discussing "the myriad issues arising from the complex interactions between animals and human society", and how such interactions tend to co-shape one another. The Round Butte Selective Water Withdrawal … Read More

via Free Association Design (F.A.D.)

What’s in the Water?

Issues of how we manage our water and what goes into it have been a primary the reason for urban planning and city design  since Roman times,  read about  it in Sextus Julius Frotinus’s  ‘De Aquis urbis Romae’ – in it he laments  about illegal  drawings from the roman water system “The public water courses are actually brought to a standstill by private citizens just to water their gardens.”  Tehre was a more insidious and invisible enemy lurking within the system – Roman lead pipes are conjectured to have lead to the fall of Rome some centuries later. We don’t seem to have got much better at it – like all regulation based processes, its what they are based on and  it’s not only having the laws  – but how they are enforced – leading to the the idea that any design that relies on enforcement is inherently flawed, the big question in all civic and environmental regulation is how  do we obtain the active participation of the public whose interest is supposedly being served and how do we use that public policing to curtail the actions of those whose self interest is put above the civic good?

In this articles from METROPOLIS MAG.COM By Becca Harsch and Stephanie Stone soem of these issues are raised in relation to water quality,

The Kansas River, photographed in Lawrence, Kansas.

“A glance at the 2010 Water Quality Report reveals a plethora of contaminants in our local water supply. From atrazine – a type of herbicide – to arsenic, the contents of the report are surprising but not unique. We are residents of Lawrence, Kansas, and our water comes from the Kansas River, commonly known as the Kaw. The Kaw is the world’s longest prairie river, according to Friends of the Kaw, a grassroots organization that works to protect and preserve the river. The fact that the Kansas River supplies water for 600,000 Kansas residents emphasizes the idea that everyone is downstream from somewhere. But we are not unique: a quick look at your municipality’s water report will likely reveal much of the same information.”

Read the full article

World Water Day 2011 – Cape Town to host main event

Cape Town will be busy again in March hosting the main conference event UN Water’s World Water Day from 20 – 22nd March 2011 at the Cape Town International Conference Center.

Cape Town with its Mediterranean climate having wet Winters and dry Summers as can be seen now around the city how the landscape becomes dry and brown and with past water shortages all but forgotten it is important to keep in mind the essential nature of water to life and how many people do not have access to safe clean and pure drinking water while some of thoughtlessly use waste potable water on gardens and car washing. Finding ways to conserve and rethink out use of water and how to recycle and reuse it as many times as possible , while still allowing it to flow through the natural system without polluting that system further downstream from us, is  one of the many water related challenges which will be focused on at this conference and all over the world on March 22nd which is WORLD WATER DAY 2011

Join The World Water Day Social Network
Another great photo from Kolkata, India was added to WWD2011 Flickr Photostream by Roy del Vecchio. The World Water Day photostream now contains over 400 of your photos from cities across the globe. Do you have any Water for the Cities photos? If so you could add them to our Flickr photostream.

Continue reading