The Multiple Values of Urban Waterways

Nicki Schiessel Harvey

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    This chapter addresses the benefits that urban waterways ? including rivers, streams, canals, and water bodies such as reservoirs and docks ? deliver to society. Using a series of short case studies from Great Britain, this chapter illustrates key stakeholders, synergies, and conflicts in ?unlocking? and managing the multiple values of urban waterways. Waterways are many things to many people. How they are valued, by whom, changes over time according to socio-environmental context. Urban waterways in particular have been harnessed over millennia to deliver a wide range of benefits to society, from provision of food and drinking water to transportation, industrial power, and urban sanitation. They have been modified to control flooding and free up development land and to support an aesthetic urban environment. Changes to natural water courses and water systems to achieve different priorities have often compromised their ecological value and their ability to support and regulate natural processes. The role of water in managing the environmental performance of cities in the face of future challenges is increasingly being recognized. However, conventional economic mechanisms for decision-making do not easily account for the ecosystem services that urban water can provide or the costs of neglecting these. Observable waterways (or the flooding effects of hidden ones) are the aspects of urban water most evident to communities as well as to policy decision-makers; this visibility is an asset in engaging both policymakers and the public with understanding the wider social, environmental, and economic benefits of water in cities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Climate Resilient Societies
    EditorsRobert Brears
    PublisherSpringer Nature
    ISBN (Print)9783030328115
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 6 Jul 2021


    • Waterway Urban waterways Policy Ecosystem Services Values


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