Issues of how we manage our water and what goes into it have been a primary the reason for urban planning and city design since Roman times, read about it in Sextus Julius Frotinus’s ‘De Aquis urbis Romae’ – in it he laments about illegal drawings from the roman water system “The public water courses are actually brought to a standstill by private citizens just to water their gardens.” Tehre was a more insidious and invisible enemy lurking within the system – Roman lead pipes are conjectured to have lead to the fall of Rome some centuries later. We don’t seem to have got much better at it – like all regulation based processes, its what they are based on and it’s not only having the laws – but how they are enforced – leading to the the idea that any design that relies on enforcement is inherently flawed, the big question in all civic and environmental regulation is how do we obtain the active participation of the public whose interest is supposedly being served and how do we use that public policing to curtail the actions of those whose self interest is put above the civic good?
In this articles from METROPOLIS MAG.COM By Becca Harsch and Stephanie Stone soem of these issues are raised in relation to water quality,
“A glance at the 2010 Water Quality Report reveals a plethora of contaminants in our local water supply. From atrazine – a type of herbicide – to arsenic, the contents of the report are surprising but not unique. We are residents of Lawrence, Kansas, and our water comes from the Kansas River, commonly known as the Kaw. The Kaw is the world’s longest prairie river, according to Friends of the Kaw, a grassroots organization that works to protect and preserve the river. The fact that the Kansas River supplies water for 600,000 Kansas residents emphasizes the idea that everyone is downstream from somewhere. But we are not unique: a quick look at your municipality’s water report will likely reveal much of the same information.”