Politics of Urban Runoff
When rain falls on the city, it creates urban runoff that cause flooding, erosion, and water pollution. Municipal engineers manage a complex network of technical and natural systems to treat and remove these temporary water flows from cities as quickly as possible. Urban runoff is frequently discussed in terms of technical expertise and environmental management, but it encompasses a multitude of such nontechnical issues as land use, quality of life, governance, aesthetics, and community identity, and is central to the larger debates on creating more sustainable and livable cities. In this book, Andrew Karvonen uses urban runoff as a lens to view the relationships among nature, technology, and society. Offering theoretical insights from urban environmental history, human geography, landscape and ecological planning, and science and technology studies as well as empirical evidence from case studies, Karvonen proposes a new relational politics of urban nature.
After describing the evolution of urban runoff practices, Karvonen analyzes the urban runoff activities in Austin and Seattle—two cities known for their highly contested public debates over runoff issues and exemplary storm water management practices. The Austin case study highlights the tensions among urban development, property rights, land use planning, and citizen activism; the Seattle case study explores the city’s long-standing reputation for being in harmony with nature. Drawing on these accounts, Karvonen suggests a new relational politics of urban nature that is situated, inclusive, and action-oriented to address the tensions among nature, technology, and society.
About the Author
Andrew Karvonen is Lecturer in Architecture and Urbanism in the University of Manchester’s School of Environment and Development and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for Sustainable Development at the University of Texas at Austin.
—Martin Melosi, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen University Professor and Director of the Center for Public History, University of Houston
—William Shutkin, President, Presidio Graduate School; author of The Land That Could Be: Environmentalism and Democracy in the Twenty-First Century
—Matthew Gandy, Professor and Director of the UCL Urban Laboratory, Department of Geography, University College London; author of Concrete and Clay: Reworking Nature in New York City
Winner, 2014 John Friedmann Book award given by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning