The Urban Watershed Program promotes faculty and student research on the unique relationships, impacts and demands of watersheds in urban areas.
Watersheds in urban areas encounter stresses unique to the urban environment, while sharing common characteristics and following natural laws of all water systems. Urban watersheds are often polluted, heavily engineered, inaccessible, and little understood by nearby residents; population density exacerbates stresses on waterways.
As cities emerge from a period when they ignored their rivers and harbors, new relationships are being developed with adjacent waterways. Past practices that marginalized waterscapes from the urban environment are being reevaluated. Now, with more attention to urban environmental quality, there is a greater understanding of the vital role waterways play as sources of open space, transportation, recreation, and habitat.
The Urban Watershed Program promotes the interdisciplinary science and policy studies of these waterways. A convenient study site is offered in the greater New Haven area through the established relationships of the Center for Coastal and Watershed Systems and the Hixon Center for Urban Ecology.
Investigators plan to study how installation of self-regulating tide gates on the West River in New Haven Connecticut will alter biophysical characteristics of the river and its marshlands. They will also evaluate how changes in the ecosystem influence how people think about and use the area. They will measure water quality characteristics, vegetation patterns, and fish and bird communities. The Mill River, which is also located in New Haven and has tide gates, will be used as a control. The YSIEconet™ website displays water quality information measured automatically and displayed in real time. Over the course of the day, the parameters respond to tides, river flow, and biogeochemical cycles.