"Blue Cities®" Initiative Overview
CRWA has long led efforts to improve the urban
environment. Our work focuses on water resources including rivers, ponds
and streams; water infrastructure, including water, sewer and stormwater
systems; and parks and open spaces, where most urban residents come into
contact with the natural environment, and the river in particular. The
urban environment, with its buried streams, impervious surfaces, filled
land and engineered infrastructure, is a challenging place to improve.
Yet the potential for change is enormous, and the impacts far-reaching.
Viewing things at the watershed scale, our science
and policy work tend to focus on connections and interdependence. We see
the relationships between healthy rivers, vibrant parks, strong
communities and sustainable development. Well aware of the damaging
effects of suburban sprawl, we support urban design and development that
enhances the community and the environment.
Our experience with development projects, however,
is that too often the processes of site review, design and impact
analysis do not maximize the potential benefits of the development.
Local, regional and state planning, permitting and review processes are
fragmented; community groups feel they have little genuine opportunity
to participate; developers feel they lack clear guidance and
requirements; opportunities to link development to larger infrastructure
improvements so as to leverage additional resources are not pursued.
CRWA proposes to use our scientific, advocacy and
coalition building experience to create a reproducable process for
environmentally sensitive urban development. The aim of the project is
“to create a replicable, standardized way to assess environmental needs
and support development that will enhance the local environment.” The
three-year project, which began in January 2005, has focused on three
distinct urban redevelopment areas:
Blue Cities® Guide
The project concluded in March 2008, and the culmination of our work was the publication of our Blue Cities® Guide: Environmentally Sensitive Urban Development. This Guide treats each of our three project areas as a case study, and summarizes the processes that CRWA undertook it each. It offers a comprehensive approach for addressing a variety of problems faced in the urban water environment, including flooding, declining base flow in streams, groundwater recession, and water quality violations. The Guide is intended to serve not only as a report on our findings in each of the three areas, but as a tool for implementing the Blue Cities® approach across urban landscape. Download a copy of the Blue Cities® Guide (PDF), Blue Cities® Guide appendices (PDF), or purchase a full-color hard copy of the Guide at the CRWA Store
The Environmentally Sensitive Urban Development
project was made possible by grants from the Boston Foundation and the
Cabot Family Charitable Trust.