Mission

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Resilience…

is the guiding principle which now dominates public policy and investments. Climate related risk is understood by scientists, insurance industry leaders, and government officials as a key concern for community viability.

Resilience accounts for a community’s ability to prepare for, absorb, withstand, recover, and adapt to various shocks, including natural disasters brought on increasingly by changing climate conditions. Intense rainfall is overwhelming urban stormwater pipes. Sea level rise and shifting currents are allowing saltwater to push further landward. River valleys are eroded and submerged when floodwaters fill them more often and more severely than in the past. Living systems (such as coastal marshes, riparian forests, shellfish reefs, etc) and the types of engineered systems that mimic or incorporate them have the special attributes of self-repair and regeneration.

Urban areas have traditionally been written off as “too far gone” or “too demanding” to warrant serious natural resource management attention.

This prevailing attitude has led planners, politicians, engineers, and businesses alike to handle the landscape with a heavy hand, altering the vegetation, soil, and waterways when and as convenient. In spite of various environmental regulations, the cumulative effect of these actions has been to impair coastal and river buffers, deplete the ground water supply, cause chronically low stream base flows, increase peak flows (resulting in eroded streams or overwhelmed piped systems), and transmit an array of common contaminants directly into receiving waters without treatment.

Communities face problems ranging from erosion to public health impacts, to greater flooding, to lost recreation access, to higher taxes, to depressed property values, and more.

Structural solutions such as floodwalls or hard armor can play a role in defending against floods, but they work better when included along with natural regenerative elements such as marshes, dunes, reefs to diminish storm impacts and dissipate energy before it strikes vulnerable targets. End-of-pipe modifications – in the form of wastewater treatment plant and stormwater collection system upgrades – are expensive. Cities are increasingly interested in restoring the vegetation, healthy soil, and landforms that have the capacity to capture, filter and purify urban run-off as a cost-effective and ecologically conscious way of managing stormwater. Likewise, flood risk reduction projects are also starting to apply green infrastructure.

Outside of populated urban centers, the impacts of mining, factory production, military operations, and waste disposal are felt as keenly in contaminated soil, surface water, and ground water.

Remediation methods have the potential to improve the ecological productivity of contaminated sites. By using plants, microorganisms, and natural geochemical processes, sites may be cleaned while simultaneously enhancing ecological health and leaving land in prime condition for conservation and recreation. These sustainable approaches harness natural processes for the benefit of people, along with watersheds.

The Center for Urban Watershed Resilience believes that environmental quality, community vitality, and socioeconomic opportunity are deeply connected.

The Center seeks to devise solutions that integrate natural resource management, commercial and residential development, and urban infrastructure.

Our goal is to transform damaged and vulnerable lands into economically viable, ecologically functional, socially valuable amenities.

The Center sees a new opportunity to positive solutions driven by community needs within every tough issue where land disturbance and degradation cause risk to life, health, and property. By focusing on coastal and river corridors, the Center helps municipalities adapt to climate change and its threats. By incorporating green technologies through cutting edge planning and design within the built environment, we can bring ecological integrity and social vitality to those areas most in need.

For more information about how CUWR can help transform a site or solve a pressing environmental problem in your area, please contact us via info@cuwr.org.