What’s in the Water?

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,

The Kansas River, photographed in Lawrence, Kansas.

“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.”

Read the full article

Bon Voyage? Visualizing Where Trash Travels (via Encountering Urbanization)

Where does our waste go when we dump it in the trash or even if we recycle it? Here are some answers for American junk – I wonder how much of ours is recycled into things we get back again in a another form? We (Cape Town residents) are not currently very good as our city does not collect separated waste- nor are our voluntary processes great – but if you take some effort – like my good wife – then you can take your sorted paper, plastic, metal tins and glass to the local dump where eager hands will sort it further for recycling. We need to do more of that and our systems should “learn: to support us!

Bon Voyage? Visualizing Where Trash Travels Being so soon after the New York blizzard melted and revealed mammoth piles of frozen garbage hiding in piles of dirty snow, it seems an inopportune time to talk about visualizing waste. Most city dwellers see plenty of it every day. But our trash is taking a pretty interesting journey from city to city, continent to continent. The three stories below give us glimpses into the path our garbage takes and the people behind converting it from waste … Read More

via Encountering Urbanization