Where are the streams of yesteryear? Underground.
Those streams of yesteryear will have to be reclaimed. They lie imprisoned in underground culverts or restrained by concrete walls and artificial embankments. Because wild nature is everywhere under threat, we want our rivers back. Drainage works and impermeable surfacing continue apace. Unless drastic action is taken, all the rivers in all the urban regions of all the industrialized countries will be lost. A river engineer once drew a comparison between river works and road works:
Proper arterial drainage is as necessary to any country as its system of trunk roads—it is a vital service to the nation and should be so regarded. The question which really should be asked—“Is this work necessary?”—is one well within the competence of an experienced land drainage engineer to answer. (Nixon 1966a)
Since 1966 trunk roads and “proper arterial drainage” have been criticized by environmentalists who, when asked, “Is the work necessary?”, scream “No!” The city of Paris posed the question about a trunk-road system in 1966. Planners calculated that to meet the demand for road space it would be necessary to provide 50 four-lane roads and a 500-metre belt of car parking around the centre. “C’était impensable” (Les Guides Bleus 1979). Parisians decided that the extra cars should be kept out of their city for environmental reasons. Now, the world’s municipal authorities must inaugurate massive river reclamation programmes. In so doing, they need to remember the reasons for treating rivers so badly: flood prevention, urbanization, forest clearance and agricultural drainage. The disease cannot be cured without removing its causes. For river catchment planning to be sustainable (Gardiner 1994) other land-uses will have to be planned in conjunction with river works. Gardiner argues that catchment planning must be linked to land-use planning, so that we can have “prevention rather than cure”. Farming, forestry