Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2016 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Ghost streams of Baltimore and their value to science, the social fabric and history
Belt, Kenneth
Co-Authors: Kenneth Belt, Sujay Kaushal, Raymond Bahr

Abstract: Though unknown to all but a few, a living aquatic system lives beneath the streets of Baltimore. The city has many buried streams that flow unseen; they harken back in time to when a healthy network of streams provided water, food and habitat to aquatic critters and human residents alike. Today, most of these streams from pre-European colonization are known only from old maps (e.g., MGS 1935, USGS 1894) and meticulously drawn DPW storm drain construction contracts that were, over the last few centuries, witness to the paving-over and burial of those aquatic ecosystems. Such has been the fate of headwater streams and rivers in many cities. However, there is a building realization of the importance of their many ecosystem and eco-sociological functions (i.e., ecosystem services) especially in the current urban water management efforts, where concrete is giving way to green infrastructure and urban landscapes are daylighting buried streams to create streams for public use and enjoyment. We discuss what we know about these subterranean networks, their role in the urban watershed continuum (UWC), their potential value to groundwater and urban stream ecology research as well as a historical and educational resource for residents. We also want to initiate a dialogue to propose a collaborative to encourage new science coupled with contributions to a blue-green urban landscape.