Post a comment on the text below


2.3              Re-discovering rivers and lakes in our cities

Historically, rivers and lakes offered a popular setting for urban development due to the fact that they could provide food, water, power generation, flat land for development, trade routes and transport. Furthermore, urban rivers and lakes have functioned for centuries as receivers and transporters of household and industrial wastewater, which gradually led to their degradation, making them a source of nuisance to city inhabitants. During the 20th century, many European rivers and lakes were polluted, deteriorated, and they lost their significant roles.

Since the 1970s, substantial investments have been made in sewers, wastewater treatment and stormwater management and led to water quality improvements across Europe. As a result, European rivers and lakes have gained a more positive image in cities and towns. It is now recognised that urban rivers and lakes are called upon to fulfil more roles such as providing space for recreation and an aesthetically pleasing environment for urban regeneration. More and more cities and communities re-discover their rivers, streams and lakes as open spaces in the urban environment, and as meeting points for social and cultural activities.

As cities are changing the way they view their water bodies, there are more opportunities for restoring urban rivers and lakes. Cities rediscover the value of rivers and lakes around which they were originally organised and developed and, in this context, many municipalities launch restoration projects. Especially urban rivers are becoming an important focus for restoration, and this is likely to expand further as urban development continues and demands for a sustainable and enhanced quality of life increase.

Restoration projects offer the chance for a future oriented city planning and development. In recent years more and more people have been recognizing this as an asset for their quality of life. In practice, many restoration projects for urban rivers are initiated not so much with the view to improving aquatic biotic ecosystems but as part of urban (regeneration) projects closely associated with the rivers running through the cities (Bruhn, 2015). Indeed, much of the impetus for urban restoration efforts has been the recognition of the range of public benefits that river restoration provides (Petts et al. 2002).

Previous comments

  • vanneru (Rudy Vannevel) 16 Aug 2016 11:00:01

    Pollution was already substantial in the 19th C. in many large cities that developed because of the Industrial revolution. Emerging from the Industrial revolution in England, the sanitary revolution boosted technological developments of drinking water supply and waste water treatment since mid 19th C., in particular in London. The city of Prague has an UWWTP in place since 1906 (Wanner, 2015).

    Ref. Wanner, 2015. See: IWA, 2015. 12th IWA Specialised Conference on Design, Operation and Economics of Large Waste Water Treatment Plants, held in Prague (Czech Republic), September 6-9 2015.

  • vanneru (Rudy Vannevel) 16 Aug 2016 11:12:37

    In medieval times, water was frequently used for all kinds of events, including fire works, jousts, and ceremonies. The water front was enjoyed as much as today, and until the 19th C. the river banks in Ghent  consisted of large parcels with small tea houses (called gloriettes) near the border.

You cannot post comments to this consultation because you are not authenticated. Please log in.