Urban Watershed Program

The Urban Watershed Program promotes faculty and student research on the unique relationships, impacts and demands of watersheds in urban areas.

Watersheds in urban areas encounter stresses unique to the urban environment, while sharing common characteristics and following natural laws of all water systems. Urban watersheds are often polluted, heavily engineered, inaccessible, and little understood by nearby residents; population density exacerbates stresses on waterways.

As cities emerge from a period when they ignored their rivers and harbors, new relationships are being developed with adjacent waterways. Past practices that marginalized waterscapes from the urban environment are being reevaluated. Now, with more attention to urban environmental quality, there is a greater understanding of the vital role waterways play as sources of open space, transportation, recreation, and habitat.

The Urban Watershed Program promotes the interdisciplinary science and policy studies of these waterways. A convenient study site is offered in the greater New Haven area through the established relationships of the Center for Coastal and Watershed Systems and the Hixon Center for Urban Ecology.

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The Yale Swale Project

There has long been keen interest by F&ES faculty and students to develop teaching, research and management opportunities on Yale University’s campus. One possibility is the “Yale Swale”, a 5.5 acre forested area bounded by Prospect St. to the east, the Prospect-Sachem Parking Garage to the south, Mansfield St. to the west, and Hillside Place to the north. Earlier in the last century, the site comprised a mix of trees and backyards maintained by Mansfield and Prospect St. residents. A series of changes in ownership leading to Yale’s acquisition of most of the properties within the project area has created an interest in managing the site collectively.  Read more...

Initial Assessment of the Yale Swale by Stephen Brooks and Ryan Sarsfield

Yale Swale 2013 Assessment by Ambika Khadka and Avishesh Neupane


West River/Mill River (New Haven) Study
Visit the YSIEconet™ Realtime Monitoring Website

Investigators plan to study how installation of self-regulating tide gates on the West River in New Haven Connecticut will alter biophysical characteristics of the river and its marshlands. They will also evaluate how changes in the ecosystem influence how people think about and use the area. They will measure water quality characteristics, vegetation patterns, and fish and bird communities. The Mill River, which is also located in New Haven and has tide gates, will be used as a control.  The YSIEconet™ website displays water quality information measured automatically and displayed in real time. Over the course of the day, the parameters respond to tides, river flow, and biogeochemical cycles.


Contact Dr. Gaboury Benoit to learn more about the Urban Watershed Program: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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