Thursday, May 9, 2013

Reclaiming Our Urban Rivers?

The Rio Medelling today: Crowded by traffic and noise.
The city of Medellin recently announced that the Medellin River, which runs down the middle of the city, will be lined with green areas to create a grand recreation area. It's yet another way in which Colombia's second city seems to be leapfrogging Bogotá in liveability.

Bogotá's own Rio Bogotá, which flows north to south near the city's western edge, has long been considered an environmental, health and urbanistic disaster, thanks to its severe pollution and accompanying stench.

For decades, city leaders have talked about
The future Medellin River (Image: El Tiempo)
cleaning up the Rio Bogotá - and repeatedly delayed the plans. Cleaning the river will mean building a network of canals to collect the city's sewage and other wastewaters and carry them to treatment plants - which will cost the city a fortune.

The Rio Bogotá isn't the capital's only waterway. When the Spanish arrived here, what is now Bogotá was a wetland fed by rivers flowing down from the Cerros Orientales. Today, most of those rivers flow thru pipelines buried underground. The few exceptions, including part of the Rio del Arzobispo, which flows thru the Parque Nacional, and the Rio Negro in El Virrey Park. Even tho both those rivers flow in cement canals, they provide a bit of a break from the city, as well as an excuse for green corridors thru the city. Would it be possible to clean and uncover more of Bogotá's rivers? How about restoring some to a condition closer to nature?

A fantasy? A woman studies an image of the supposed future of the Rio Bogotá, lined by trees and green areas - and presumably cleaned of chemicals and sewage.

The Tequendama Falls south of Bogotá may look pretty, but often smell terrible. (Photo: Wikipedia

Two views of a river flowing thru a cement canal near the Restrepo neighborhood. 

The flooded Rio Arzobispo flows thru the Parque Nacional.

Outside the park, the Rio del Arzobispo is bordered by a narrow green strip - at least it's visible. 

The Rio del Arzobispo disappears into a pipe, never to be seen again. 

The Rio Bogotá near Engativa. (Photo: Wikipedia)
 By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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