An urban stream is a formerly natural waterway that flows through a heavily populated area. Urban streams are often polluted by urban runoff and combined sewer outflows. Water scarcity makes flow management in the rehabilitation of urban streams problematic.
Governments may alter the flow or course of an urban stream to prevent localized flooding by river engineering: lining stream beds with concrete or other hardscape materials, diverting the stream into culverts and storm sewers, or other means. Some urban streams, such as the subterranean rivers of London, run completely underground. These modifications have often reduced habitat for fish and other species, caused downstream flooding due to alterations of flood plains, and worsened water quality.
Some communities have begun stream restoration projects in an attempt to correct the problems caused by alteration, using techniques such as daylighting and fixing stream bank erosion caused by heavy stormwater runoff. Streamflow augmentation to restore habitat and aesthetics is also an option, and recycled water can be used for this purpose.
- Nationwide Urban Runoff Program (NURP) – US research program
- Nonpoint source pollution
- Subterranean river
- Water pollution
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- Ecosystem Effects of Urban Stream Restoration (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)