Denver, Colorado city officials have come to realize that nature had a plan behind the design of waterways in the arid state, and it did not involve diverting creeks and rivers through storm drains and concrete channels.  Denver is discovering the value of the long lost natural waterways that once criss-crossed the city.

In 1858, developers in Colorado’s capitol city began to fill in and divert creeks and streams.  They created a grid of roads, buildings, and railroad tracks that they imposed upon the natural landscape. They routed surface water into pipes and concrete channels, destroying wetlands that absorbed flood waters.

Urban planners worldwide have rediscovered the practical and quality of life value of these natural waterways.  Denver has committed several hundred million dollars toward a billion dollar, multi-decade effort to restore lost riparian corridors. This process, known as “daylighting,” involves digging up pipes and tearing out concrete canals carrying drainage under and around the city, replacing them with restored wetlands and natural channels.  According to City Engineers, the return to a more natural landscape slows flood waters and filters runoff through vegetation, which removes contaminants, and nourishes greenery, helping mitigate a climate shift toward increasing droughts and rising temperatures.”

Storm flooding in Denver is exacerbated by the ever increasing volume of pavement throughout the city.  In heavy storms, water runoff overwhelms the capacity of drainage pipelines, most of which are quite old.  Allowing runoff water to drain naturally allows large amounts of water to slowly sink into wetlands

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers supports daylighting, recognizing that pipes and concrete channels typically can’t handle surges the way natural creeks and floodplains once did. Denver’s City Engineers have taken a long view on the matter, planning several decades of slowly restoring the old waterways marked as curving dotted lines on historic maps of 19th century Denver.

We at IXPower support the efforts of Denver’s city officials. With fresh water becoming more and more scarce, any effort to clean that by which we are surrounded is vital.


Source: Denver Post “Denver accelerates ‘daylighting’ of lost waterways, ‘undoing history’ with decades-long re-engineering effort”

Sept. 2, 2018