Infrastructural instabilities of urban river restoration: Towards a metropolitan political ecology in the Tel Aviv region

Oren Shlomo, Nathan Marom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article draws on the case of the Yarqon Restoration Project (YRP) in the Tel Aviv metropolitan region (TAMR) to highlight the infrastructural instabilities of urban river restoration and their theoretical implications. It analyzes the YRP as an outcome of multiple material interdependencies between “gray” and “green” infrastructures that are embedded in metropolitan-scale flows and politics. Methodologically, the article focuses on the main infrastructural projects constructed as part of the YRP and on subsequent polluting events that have since undermined the project. It uses data collected from policy documents, protocols, media coverage, and interviews conducted with stakeholders and professionals. The analysis shows that infrastructural instabilities are directly marked by the recurrence of “old” polluting uses within “new” recreational and ecological uses. These instabilities are deeply embedded in the metropolitan region's unequal spatial-political structure, particularly disparities between upstream and downstream municipalities. We use the YRP case to develop a preliminary conceptual outline of a metropolitan political ecology, which highlights the spatial, environmental, and political complexities and inequalities of the metropolitan region and their consequences for the production of urban nature. This perspective extends the critical approach of urban political ecology, highlighting the metropolitan region as a critical scale at which natural watersheds intersect with geopolitical arrangements of territorial control, and at which environmental concerns are negotiated between numerous jurisdictions, conflicting land uses, and competing political-economic interests. The article suggests that metropolitan political ecology is a distinct and useful approach to understand not only urban river restoration but also other complex environmental issues.

Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the ISRAEL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (Grant No. 1812/16).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Authors. All rights reserved.


  • green and gray infrastructure
  • metropolitan regions
  • pollution
  • urban political ecology
  • urban rivers
  • Yarqon river


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