Water, Aquatic Ecology, and Land-Water Linkages

This course is intended to provide students with an understanding of water that will inform their professional approaches to landscape architecture, architecture, and planning, and contribute to protecting, improving, restoring, and sustaining water resources.

Lectures, class discussions, hands-on exercises, and a weekend field trip will cover (1) general characteristics of water on Earth, (2) land-water interactions, and (3) aquatic ecology, emphasizing hydrology and water quality, with particular reference to human activities affecting water resources, and to water-sensitive design. Topics are covered from local to continental scales and are illustrated with examples and case studies from around the world.

Part 1: Background information and broad overview of water on Earth (Colburn).

Part 2: Land-water interactions (Colburn and Dekker). Lectures and exercises in landscape hydrology, geomorphology, and water quality, especially in relation to urbanization and design. Hands-on practice with hydrologic calculations to estimate runoff and groundwater flow. Class design exercise developing stormwater best-management practices/low-impact design (LID) recommendations for neighborhood in Washington, DC. Case studies in stormwater management and urban stream restoration.

Part 3: Aquatic ecosystems and design (Colburn). A broad overview of the characteristics and biota of flowing waters, lakes and ponds, temporary waters, floodplains, wetlands, and nearshore coastal waters. Emphasis on ecosystem structure and function as related to services provided to human societies, ecological effects of urbanization and other human land alterations, and pertinent design concepts and approaches for aquatic habitat creation and restoration/remediation. Weekend field trip to assess and compare designed urban waters with relatively unaltered ones and to develop mitigation design recommendations for the urban sites.

Part 4: Scale, legal and regulatory considerations, restoration opportunities, and the design team; special topics (Colburn, Dekker, student presentations).

Evaluation: Based on class attendance and participation, short (2-page) written assignments, quizzes, class design exercises in stormwater infrastructure and habitat mitigation, and individual project.

Prerequisites: None.