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.

The class meets each week for one, three-hour session, and there is a two-day weekend field trip in early spring. Classes will include lectures, class discussions of readings and problems, and hands-on exercises. The semester will be broadly divided into two sections covering (1) general characteristics of water on Earth, land-water interactions, hydrology and hydrologic calculations, and green stormwater management and design/LID; and (2) aquatic ecosystems and ecology, emphasizing specific design problems in habitat creation and restoration. Topics are covered from local to continental scales and are illustrated with examples and case studies from around the world.

Part 1: Land-water interactions. Background information and broad overview of water on Earth, including the global water cycle and world water crisis. Lectures and exercises in landscape hydrology, geomorphology, and water quality, especially in relation to urbanization and design. Hands-on exercises include watershed delineation, and hydrologic calculations to estimate runoff and groundwater infiltration and flow. Case studies in stormwater management. Design exercise developing recommendations for stormwater best-management-practices/low-impact design (LID) for neighborhood in Washington, DC.

Part 2: Aquatic ecosystems and design. 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. Specific design topics illustrate key concepts and problems. Weekend field trip includes hands-on field sampling and analysis of habitats and biota to assess and compare designed urban waters with relatively unaltered ones and to develop mitigation design recommendations for the urban sites.

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

Prerequisites: None.