Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Science and Mathematics


Earth and Environmental Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Joshua Galster

Committee Member

Gregory Pope

Committee Member

Duke Ophori


A river offers many benefits to people who live near it, including transportation, a source of food, waste disposal, and water resources for consumption. Because of these advantages many great cities were built around rivers impacting rivers in many ways. While the effects of urban development on water quality have long been studied, this study measures how development has caused streams to disappear from the landscape. It was observed that some streams were buried due to negative impacts of urbanization. Public safety and flood control were some of the reasons these streams were buried, but with the advent of green infrastructure (life-support systems like waterways, forest), renewed efforts are being made to open up these streams with the aim to incorporate them back into the essential infrastructure of the community. One of the solutions to restore buried streams to a more natural state is the process of daylighting. Daylighting projects deliberately expose some or all of a previously covered river channel. It liberates waterways that were buried in culverts or pipes, covered by decks, routed into underground stormwater drainages, or otherwise removed from view. Furthermore, daylighting re-establishes a waterway in its old channel where feasible, or in a new channel threaded between the buildings, streets, parking lots, and playing fields. Daylighting reintegrates the river back into the urban environment that caused the river to be buried in the first place. The restored habitat could also beautify the neighborhoods and improve water quality by providing a riparian buffer. The restored habitat after daylighting allows trees and vegetation which transpire and evaporate water, cooling the surface and the surrounding air. Daylighting could also add to property values because property values tend to be higher around water. Historical topographic maps of northeastern part of New Jersey were georeferenced and digitalized to identify potential daylighting project. The digitalized maps were compared to the modem stream network of New Jersey. The total number of streams digitalized was 287 with total length of 231.8km. It was observed that more streams were buried in the Paterson and Plainfield quadrangles, and it is hypothesized that the greater increases in population density for these quadrangles caused more of the rivers to be buried. Complete daylighting of the streams may be unrealistic due to cost. Estimated cost of daylighting per km of buried stream is $3.1 million. The Plainfield map lost 126 km and would require $391 million to daylight. Cost also varies by how intensely the place is urbanized, so selected sites where benefits outweigh costs could be daylighted.

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