2017 Working Group: Redrawing Our Urban Waters

Redrawing Our Urban Waters
Adell Amos, Clayton R. Hess Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, University of Oregon
Brook Muller, Professor of Architecture and Director of the UO Portland Architecture Program, University of Oregon

As a starting point: we traced the journey of water through a city – from the sky and headwaters of the watershed through buildings and urban landscapes and ultimately back to the tributaries, streams and rivers of the region. This working group considered the many contentious issues surrounding this journey as they play out in a context of climate change and the ongoing urbanization of watersheds. Using a proactive and integrated approach that engages experts in law, economics, architecture, urban design, engineering, the humanities and other domains of inquiry, the group investigated ways of reworking this journey. We explored opportunities for reconciling competing demands, changing the use and re-use of water, and better valuing increasingly limited resources.

The efforts of this working group built from a conviction that more detailed consideration of urban hydrological flows offers an effective means to think more expansively about mutually beneficial relationships between cities and surrounding landscapes, where for example we attend with more care to downstream effects.

In advance of the September 2017 conference participants prepared short (1,000 word) “vision” essays that speak to the journey of water through the urban landscape from their own disciplinary perspectives. Work sessions then teased out complementary approaches as well as the challenges to devising an integrated approach to our urban waters and the management of water resources. Individuals incorporated feedback from other working group members in expanding upon their initial essays. The anticipated product of this effort is an edited anthology Redrawing Our Urban Waters.