Reclaiming Urban Waterfronts through Green Stormwater Solutions

By Leslie Batten and Nancy D. Rottle.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Stormwater management has historically been the domain of stormwater engineers who worked with the singular purpose of preventing flooding through conveyance infrastructure. Recent awareness of the broader impacts of stormwater has brought new attention to this management practice, changing the way we perceive, manage and treat stormwater. While lakes, rivers and bays have long been impacted by polluted stormwater runoff, new findings document the broader deleterious effects of urban stormwater on aquatic life. Concurrently, in the face of post-industrial transition, waterfronts throughout the world are shifting away from industrial economies towards activities that invite greater numbers of people to live, work and play in this urban setting, enhancing city life. These urban waterfronts also provide new opportunities to treat stormwater before it is discharged and to create amenities from a waste product. This paper proposes a new urban design approach that transforms single purpose infrastructure into multifunctional places that provide numerous benefits. By redesigning stormwater infrastructure in an integrated approach, stormwater outfall locations can unify and regenerate urban spaces to support healthy, vibrant spaces for water quality, wildlife and people. Treatment at the water’s edge will serve as an inspiration for new multifunctional waterfronts as cities throughout the world undergo waterfront redevelopment.

Keywords: Stormwater, Waterfront Development, Ecological Design, Multifunctional Urban Spaces, Low Impact Development

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp.251-270. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.172MB).

Leslie Batten

Manager, MLA Candidate, Green Futures Research and Design Lab, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

Leslie Batten earned her Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Washington. Her award-winning thesis focused on developing a multifunctional stormwater system for the Town of Coupeville that incorporated cultural history, public amenities, and habitat in addition to water quality treatment. Leslie is continuing this project for the Green Futures Lab to develop a living pilot in Coupeville and to create additional pilots on other waterfront locations. Prior to Landscape Architecture Leslie was a leader in urban community natural area stewardship programs and worked to protect the region’s wild and scenic landscapes and estuaries for western Washington’s largest land trust. She holds a BS in Biology with minors in GIS and chemistry.

Prof. Nancy D. Rottle

Associate Professor, Green Futures Research and Design Lab, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

Nancy Rottle, RLA, ASLA is an Associate Professor at the University of Washington where for the last decade she has taught ecological design theory, sustainable design practices and interdisciplinary studios. Professor Rottle founded and directs the UW Green Futures Research and Design Lab to advance design, planning and research on urban green infrastructure, encompassing the landscape systems of open space, active transport, habitat and water. A registered Landscape Architect with over fourteen years of professional practice experience and numerous award-winning professional and student projects, Nancy’s research focuses on the urban public realm, open space planning, ecological water design, and design for environmental learning. She is currently directing the Waterfront Stormwater Solutions research project to develop and test innovative stormwater design for urban waterfronts. Professor Rottle’s co-authored book, Basic Landscape Architecture: Ecological Design was published by AVA Books in 2011.


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