NEW YORK CITY IS UNEARTHING A BROOK IT BURIED A CENTURY AGO: For decades, environmentalists and local activists campaigned to resurface the long-buried stream. Now, a changing climate is making what they struggled to achieve necessary. The Tibbetts Brook story provides a frame of reference for appreciating the scope of the Bowker Creek Blueprint and 100-year Action Plan, a “beacon of inspiration” on Vancouver Island (December 2021)
Note to Reader:
Daylighting Tibbetts Brook in the Bronx would mark the symbolic end of centuries of industrial pollution and neglect. It may soon become the first underground river in New York City to be restored and brought back to life. Step by step, the restoration of Tibbetts Brook is moving towards a reality, as part of a process called “daylighting,” where buried rivers are uncovered and routed aboveground once again.
The NYC Parks Departments has included the daylighting of Tibbetts Brook in its master plan for Van Cortlandt Park, while the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality have started a broad coalition of local groups that support the project.
The Tibbetts Brook story should be of interest to British Columbians because there are parallels with the 100-Year Action Plan for restoration of the inter-municipal Bowker Creek in the Capital Regional District of British Columbia.
More importantly, the Tibbetts Brook story helps put in context the magnitude of the undertaking in bringing Bowker back to life through an intergenerational stream daylighting strategy, combined with restoring natural hydrologic function as the surrounding creekshed is redeveloped.
Why New York Is Unearthing a Brook It Buried a Century Ago
“New York is a city surrounded by water, from the open ocean to bays to rivers. But there is also an enormous trove of water hidden below its streets and high-rise buildings — hundreds of subterranean streams, creeks and springs that were buried long ago and all but forgotten as the city grew. Tibbetts Brook is one of them,” wrote Winnie Hu and
“But it was not until Tibbetts Brook became part of New York’s green infrastructure efforts in 2018 that the plan started moving forward.”
“For many Bronx residents, the return of Tibbetts Brook would be the culmination of a three-decade campaign to undo the past.”
To Learn More:
To read the complete article, download a copy of Why New York Is Unearthing a Brook It Buried a Century Ago.
One of NYC’s underground rivers may soon be brought back to life
“In the Bronx, a quiet brook flows through Van Cortlandt Park, passing peacefully underneath highways, through golfing greens, and alongside a decommissioned railroad line. Its narrow flow is home to ducks and swans, and its banks are lined with wetlands and forests. The creek ends in a manmade lake that dates back to the 1600s, where it suddenly and violently disappears, dropping out of sight into a century-old storm drain,” wrote Nathan Kensinger in an article published in 2018.
“This is the Tibbetts Brook, which may soon become the first underground river in New York City to be restored and brought back to life.”
To Learn More:
To read the complete photo essay, download a copy of the article titled One of NYC’s underground rivers may soon be brought back to life.
Check out this short video to learn more about daylighting of Tibbetts Brook:
A Beacon of Inspiration on Canada’s West Coast: Bowker Creek Blueprint and 100-Year Action Plan for Watershed Restoration
“I have been an observer of the Bowker Blueprint process since 2008. In my professional experience over four decades, nobody anywhere has done what the Bowker Creek Urban Watershed Renewal Initiative (BCI) has done and continues to do,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability Executive Director, when he introduced Jody Watson of the Capital Regional District and Brianne Czypyha of the City of Victoria at a inter-regional seminar organized by the City of Vancouver in September 2021.
“The Partnership is proud to tell the Bowker story in our Watershed Case Profile titled A Beacon of Inspiration. This is a short history of building bridges of understanding from the past to the present and future. It is a story of local government champions and community leaders who share a vision, embrace shared responsibility, and are bringing Bowker Creek back to life.”
“Why is the Bowker Creek Blueprint and 100-Year Action Plan a ‘beacon of inspiration’? It is the outcome of a unique multi-jurisdictional effort, and this alone is defining. More importantly, it is a story about people who really care and believe in the mission. Their efforts demonstrate why and how it takes hard work to transform the vision for Living Water Smart in British Columbia into actions on the ground.”
“Without determined champions, nothing gets started and nothing happens. Key words that capture the essence of the Bowker story are perseverance, dedication, and TIME in capitals. Most importantly it is about the right people in the right place at the right time, over time.”
“Based on the interviews that are synthesized in A Beacon of Inspiration, the motivation for those involved is clear: It is the Blueprint mission.”
To Learn More:
A Beacon of Inspiration is the 10th in the Partnership’s Watershed Blueprint Case Profile Series. Because there is no equal to the Bowker Creek Blueprint and the intergenerational 100-Year Action Plan, the intent is that this “story behind the story” will have lasting value as a legacy resource for the Bowker Creek Urban Watershed Renewal Initiative. The Partnership’s hope is that others will be inspired by the Bowker experience.
To read the complete story, download a copy of A Beacon of Inspiration: Bowker Creek Blueprint and 100-Year Action Plan.
Or, visit https://waterbucket.ca/viw/category/convening-for-action-in-2021/bowker-blueprint-beacon-of-inspiration/ to read a set of stand-alone extracts.