More than half of America’s waterbodies are unsafe for swimming, fishing, and as sources of drinking due to city building and farming. Beyond water quality problems, dysfunctional streams cause flooding and erosion of property leading to neighborhood blight. Not only can this be reversed, but repair of degraded urban streams can be a powerful agent for reinventing the physical environments of post-industrial cities. This requires transdisciplinary collaboration between the fields of ecological engineering and urban design. The American city was uniquely premised on fusions of landscape and urbanism―a tradition with plenty of room for innovation.
However, watershed plans remain data and policy driven documents with a singular interest in repairing waterbodies. They have little to say about the city and urban design. Conversely, urban planning has not codified the value of healthy ecosystems within which cities are built. In this age of the Anthropocene, when ecosystems are human-dominated, resilient urban design must account for biological processes. The Framework Plan introduces watershed management into urban design with one simple demand: that every new development contribute to watershed stewardship, where infrastructure and building deliver ecological services in addition to urban services. The Framework Plan formulates a planning vocabulary for use among professionals and decision makers to engage this new design market.