Cities try to restore wildness to urban rivers

AP News
Posted: May 14, 2014 2:02 PM

HOUSTON (AP) — In a dramatic strategy reversal, Houston and other U.S. cities are spending a fortune to restore their urban rivers by putting in gentle bends, vegetation and even some mild rapids.

It's a big turnaround from the past. More than half a century ago, Houston engineers went to a lot of trouble to tame the flood-prone Buffalo Bayou, straightening it and lining it with concrete to send excess water out to the Gulf of Mexico.

But today, urban planners have changed their thinking. Rather than trying to corral and conquer nature, they want to return some wildness to the water, which they hope yields environmental benefits and creates an aesthetic that attracts young city dwellers.

Similar projects have been undertaken in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Los Angeles and New York.