Revitalizing Urban Waterway Communities: Streams of Environmental Justice, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Revitalizing Urban Waterway Communities

Streams of Environmental Justice, 1st Edition

By Richard Smardon, Sharon Moran, April Karen Baptiste


208 pages | 68 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138698611
pub: 2018-06-15
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315474977
pub: 2018-06-14
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The revitalizing and restoration of rivers, creeks and streams is a major focus of urban conservation activity throughout North America and Europe. This book presents models and examples for organizing multiple stakeholders for purposes of waterway revitalization—if not restoration—within a context of fairness and environmental justice.

After decades of neglect and misuse the challenge of cleaning up urban rivers and streams is shown to be complex and truly daunting. Urban river cleanup typically involves multiple agendas and stakeholders, as well as complicated technical issues. It is also often the situation that the most affected have the least voice in what happens. The authors present social process models for maximum inclusion of various stakeholders in decision-making for urban waterway regeneration. A range of examples is presented, drawn principally from North America and Europe.


"Importantly, as this book stresses, reviving urban waterways is about restoring relationships and community building. In so doing, the authors argue persuasively that there is real potential to tackle issues of environmental justice." - taken from the Foreword, Professor Judith Petts, CBE, University of Plymouth, UK

"Richard C. Smardon, Sharon Moran and April Karen Baptiste have delivered an invaluable handbook on urban stream restoration for professional practitioners, policy makers and planners, community-based scientists and activists, and university faculty and students. The distribution of urban water quality problems has long been a critical environmental justice issue, with deep political economic, geographic, and social roots. Revitalizing Urban Waterway Communities: Streams of Environmental Justice provides a wealth of scientific evidence and case studies (with especially instructive examples from Europe) that serve as a best-practice guide to those aiming to clean up their waterways and at the same time, avoid the pitfalls of green gentrification. Particularly innovative are the book’s approach to engagement via arts and culture, and how stream restoration can serve as a way to improve the physical landscape and water quality while at the same time repairing social relationships. It is required reading for urban environmentalists and social justice activists."- Jennifer Wolch, William W. Wurster Dean, College of Environmental Design University of California, Berkeley, USA

"From the nation’s capital to the East Bay, from Syracuse to Milwaukee to Chattanooga, Smardon and his colleagues have embraced the rich diversity of experience in revitalizing urban watersheds and waterfronts—a truly collaborative process which will survive the ups and downs of federal environmental policies." - Rutherford H. Platt, Emeritus Professor of Geography, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA

"Environmental restoration is a rapidly growing field and the restoration and revitalization of wetlands, streams and other waterways are a dominant focus. In this important book, the authors place their topic squarely within the frames of environmental justice and broadly inclusive public engagement, showing without a doubt that "success" in restoration is as much a social goal as it is an ecological or technical one. A must read for scholars and practitioners involved in ecological restoration, urban ecology, green infrastructure planning and other fields who are seeking a more harmonious fit between people and natural systems." - Paul H. Gobster, US Forest Service, and former Editor-in-Chief of Landscape and Urban Planning (Elsevier).

"Connection to water has a profound impact on us as a species--it has the power to delight, to heal, to restore our hearts and economies. Yet, too often we have ignored the waterways around us, large and small. This books aims to correct this and to show how communities can engage with and restore these ecological and social assets. This book is a badly needed treatise on how to creatively involve the community in connecting with and caring for the waterways around us, and in the process working towards social justice. From the theoretical (the history of urban river restoration and the larger policy issues and challenges faced) to the more applied (techniques for community engagement and mapping) this book provides a wealth of insight about what is needed and what will work in reconnecting to urban waterways. This is important reading for any planner, city official, activist or citizen interested in the health and restoration of streams and rivers, and the people and communities they can help to sustain and bring together along the way." - Timothy Beatley, School of Architecture, University of Virginia, USA

"Cities across the world are restoring urban waterways, and they all face the question of how to ensure that projects of river revitalization include the voices and address the needs of the most disadvantaged communities. This eye-opening, valuable, and compelling volume breaks new ground by using case studies of urban stream restoration to examine a range of strategies and challenges for achieving social and environmental justice. It will be an essential resource for practitioners, activists, academics, and all others involved in reimagining and transforming the world’s urban rivers." - Ryan Holifield, Associate Professor of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA

"Matters of environmental justice merit detailed investigation across many different topic areas and contexts. This book is an excellent example, taking on the novel and fascinating case of urban waterway revitalization and interrogating this in terms of crucial process questions – who participates, who is included, through what means and with what outcomes? Drawing on cases from across North America and Europe, and engaging with diverse participatory methods and techniques, this is a book that will be of great interest to scholars of environmental justice, political ecology and urban planning, as well as to those engaged with pursuing and/or resisting waterway revitalization projects on the ground" - Gordon Walker, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, UK

"Integrating new and generative insights from environmental justice studies and political ecology, the authors of Revitalizing Urban Waterway Communities advance our understanding of the possibilities of fusing ecological restoration with social equity. Drawing on multiple case studies from the U.S. and Europe, this book provides deeply grounded, theoretically sophisticated analyses of how communities can improve the health of rivers and streams and of the people who interact with them." -David N. Pellow, Environmental Studies, UC Santa Barbara, USA

"Revitalizing Urban Waterway Communities presents an in-triguing study of the challenges and opportunities in engaginglocal residents in transforming the rivers and streams that runthrough their neighborhoods.

This book is a must-read for those practitioners, researchers, and students who want to approach thecomplex task of waterway revitalization using the framework of environmental justice. The challenges of urban waterways require this holistic approach to revitalize and reconnect urbanresidents to the rivers and streams that are hidden beneath theurban fabric." - Robert L. Ryan in the Journal of Enviornemntal Studies and Sciences (October 2018)

This book could be useful to any of us engaged in urban stream remediation or restoration. To justify restoration of stream biota, we could sell a vision that goes beyond walkways, boat launches, and parks to catching edible fish in neighborhoods or watching herons and swallows. But we will need to learn how to engage human communities, as described in this book. - Glenn Suter, SETAC Book Reviews Editor

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Urban Waterway History and Planning Context

Richard Smardon

2. History of Urban River Restoration in Europe

Richard Smardon

3. The Big Picture—Framing Environmental Justice, Political Ecology and Stream Restoration

April Karen Baptiste and Sharon Moran

4. Environmental Justice Leadership and Intergenerational Continuity

April Karen Baptiste

5. Public Engagement Process

Richard Smardon

6. Restoring Streams and Relationships

Richard Smardon, Sharon Moran, Jill Weiss, and Blake Neumann

7. Community Engagement and Mapping

Richard Smardon

8. Urban Waterways as Green Infrastructure

Richard Smardon and April Karen Baptiste

9. Creative Engagements with Waterway Restoration and Environmental Justice

Sharon Moran

10. Summary and Streams of Revitalization Practice

April Karen Baptiste, Sharon Moran, and Richard Smardon


About the Authors

Richard Smardon is a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, USA.

Sharon Moran is an Associate Professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, USA.

April Karen Baptiste is an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Africana and Latin American Studies at Colgate University, USA.

About the Series

Earthscan Studies in Water Resource Management

Earthscan Studies in Water Resource Management
This series includes a wide range of inter-disciplinary approaches to water resource management, integrating perspectives from both social and natural sciences. It includes research monographs and titles aimed at professionals, NGOs and policy-makers. Authors or editors of potential new titles should contact Hannah Ferguson, Editor (

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Ecosystems & Habitats / Rivers
SCIENCE / Environmental Science