Urban streams are recognized as functional ecosystems more and more (folks used to think of them as “dead” way too often.) While they certainly have their issues, there is a lot of biology and ecology going on in and around them. For example, there is often a stream under the stream that you see. Where the groundwater meets stream water, there can be a vibrant ecosystem with an array of different critters and microbes living in the porous spaces of the underworld. They clean the stream and use the subsurface as refuges for the young organisms to avoid being eaten.

This Hyporheic zone is just one of many building blocks of stream ecosystems that can be adapted to urbanized streams to create more healthy stream ecosystems, even with all that concrete. We’ll learn how this can be done in more of a bioengineering sense to make these ecosystems an asset for communities of people.

Dr. Ken Belt, worked for Baltimore City DPW for 19 years on urban stormwater, reservoir limnology, watershed management and many stream and runoff monitoring projects. For the next 20 years he was a USDA Forest Service hydrologist and aquatic ecologist, where he was assigned to the Baltimore Ecosystem Study LTER. Ken is currently an occasional instructor and part time consultant for the department of Geography and Environmental Systems at UMBC. He is also a new curator for NHSM where he is starting an aquatic insect collection and planning various identification training and education venues.

Ken’s research interests focus on the interactions between stream biogeochemistry and ecological structure and function, and how these are affected by the mosaic of forests and engineered infrastructure on and within urban landscapes. Currently he is encouraging the use of ecohydrological principles in the designing of stormwater management networks, in particular those using a Nature Based Solutions (NBS) approach.