‘Working Water: Reinventing the Storm Drain’ demonstrates how the vision of Ian McHarg, described over fifty years ago in his book Design with Nature, can be implemented to better manage urban water resources in ways that support more efficient water use, clean urban runoff, support natural systems, and enhance the vitality and livability of our cities. ‘Working Water’ evolved as a reflection on multiple decades of Wenk Associates professional work. Much more than a richly illustrated monograph, it is “a wide-ranging exploration of the role of water practically, spiritually, and as a quintessential element of the survival of our species.”
Problems of degradation of urbans rivers and stream are well-known, and rivers are flooding across the nation make this issue more urgent. ‘Working Water’ is a call to action to those who influence the built environment about the importance and opportunities of designing systemically with water
Working Water – Intended Purpose, Audience, and Message
Working Water: Reinventing the Storm Drain describes how the vision of Scottish landscape architect, Ian McHarg, described over fifty years ago in his book Design with Nature, can be implemented to better manage urban water resources in ways that support more efficient water use, clean urban runoff, support natural systems, and enhance the vitality and livability of our cities. Exploring the potentials of urban water resources is an important part of the Landscape Architecture Firm’ practice, and the focus of this book.
Working Water is a practical guide of how good policies can be implemented more effectively. It’s a practice-based resource that describes what the future of urban stormwater infrastructure can be when employing natural processes and systems. It is intentionally written as an educational resource and teaching tool for students, decision-makers, regulators, municipal staff, professional designers, developers, and citizens.
The three-part book includes the following:
PART ONE is a teaching tool that describes, in layman’s terms, basic stormwater management concepts and principles for students, public officials, and interested public. It describes the impacts of urbanization on natural waterways and principles for the design of more resilient projects and systems.
PART TWO is a monograph illustrating a broad array of project examples that demonstrate more sustainable and resilient solutions for the design of urban stormwater projects and systems project examples completed by the Landscape Architecture Firm. Planned and constructed green infrastructure projects from site to system scales illustrate environmentally friendly ways of managing stormwater while improving the natural qualities of the place and adding civic value. Most of the project examples include an illustrated plan view and a water diagram to demonstrate how the water systems work. Project example types include:
- Repurposing of stormwater and wastewater infrastructure as multifunctional stormwater parks and open space.
- Construction of green infrastructure systems over former landfills and brownfield sites as part of large-scale redevelopment.
- Incorporation of green infrastructure systems into large-scale urban river restoration.
- Rehabilitation and restoration of buried and degraded urban waterways.
PART THREE is a resource guide for better project design and strategies for implementation of large-scale stormwater systems. This section describes “lessons learned” and approaches to the design of more successful projects, and how to overcome barriers to implementing larger scale systems. This section includes:
- An assessment of built projects and approaches to improve performance and project design.
- Ways to overcome institutional, financial, and legal barriers to implementation of large-scale green infrastructure systems in existing communities.
- A case study and cost/ benefit analysis of retrofitting an existing urban district with green infrastructure.
A GLOSSARY is included in the back which is intended to provide readers with a general understanding of a term or concept, and not to provide technical, regulatory, or legal definitions of terms. Students and professors have expressed their appreciation for including this valuable resource in the book.
Problems of degradation of urbans rivers and stream are well-known, and rivers are flooding across the nation making this issue more urgent. As well, meeting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) goal to make urban rivers and streams more swimmable and fishable haven’t been met since its water quality requirements were implemented. Now is the time. Working Water is a call to action to those who influence the built environment about the urgency and opportunities of designing systemically with water.
Working Water – Impact and Effectiveness
Working Water was published in the Fall of 2021, so its ultimate impact and effectiveness on the landscape profession is still to be determined. At the time of this award submittal, a favorable review of the book has been published in ASLA’s blog THE DIRT by Lori Catalano, ASLA, and Kelly Curl, both associate professors in landscape architecture at Colorado State University. Another review is scheduled to be published in Landscape Architecture Magazine later this summer by David Hopman, ASLA, an associate professor of landscape architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Since the book was published, we have learned from several landscape architecture professors from accredited universities including Ann Komara, ASLA, from the University of Colorado at Denver and Kofi Boone, FASLA, from North Carolina State University, that they have assigned Working Water for their class work and are finding it to be a valuable resource for students.
The Author has also been invited to speak on the challenges and issues highlighted in the book for the Iowa Storm Water Education Partnership and for the American Planning Association Colorado Chapter later this year.
Working Water – Testimonials
“As a student, I appreciate the thoughtfulness and reality that is ingrained in Working Water. Academia can sometimes lack grounding in real-world challenges that face our profession, but [the Author] addresses these challenges, notes the limitations, and provides paths forward.”
– Andrea Kraft, MLA Student, University of Colorado at Denver
“Working Water is a beautiful monograph and so much more. While its artwork is stunning with its renderings and gorgeous photos of landscaping projects, it is also an excellent primer for the non-landscape architect about how earth’s water flow sculpts an environment to miraculously renew itself, and how we can preserve, restore, and promote water’s natural resiliency and recovery.”
– Mary Beth Susman, Ph.D., former two-term Denver City Councilwoman, and served on the Denver Planning Board
“The title Working Water: Reinventing the Storm Drain is deceptively modest and understated. The storm drain serves as a metaphor which takes us from the smallest down to earth details of how to manage storm water all the way to the imperative to restore natural systems in a time of great vulnerability to climate change Much more than a monograph about the work of [the Landscape Architecture Firm], it is a wide-ranging exploration of the role of water practically, spiritually, and as a quintessential element of the survival of our species.”
– Ken Greenberg CM – urban designer, teacher, writer, former Director of Urban Design and Architecture for the City of Toronto and Principal of Greenberg Consultants
Working Water – Statistical Information
- Publication date: Fall 2021
- Circulation/distribution: The first edition printing of the book consisted of 2,000 copies, plus 500 for the Firm.
- Book Size: 9”x11” (portrait), 182 pages
- Distribution: Working Water is available through local bookstores and/or online through most book retailers.
Documents and Media
Planning Docs (if applicable):