Water Is Everything

When our team (Daniela, Eva and I) created the project Water Journey, the original thought was come up to reflect the relationship between nature and human being. The water issue has been discuss a lot since we are all aware of the fresh water is a finite, non-renewable resources. In the video The Sky Is Pink by Josh Fox, it is said, “With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of waste-water that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium.” After seeing too much data or report from the social media like this, people are easier to become numb when facing the environmental problems.



Resources: U.S. Geological Surbey

So it is interesting to assume that we are the water and see how is “our daily life” looks like. If we consider the water as a human, we probably respect him more about his life, soul, joy even the troubles he met. However, people still obtain water, use, and then waste, just like other resources. There are several categories of water use in this country, public supply, domestic, irrigation, thermoelectric power, industrial, mining, livestock and aquaculture.

The majority of people in this country used water provided by public suppliers. The estimated use of water report in the United States in 2010 indicates that domestic deliveries by public water suppliers totaled 23,800 Mgal/d in 2010 and represented water provided to 268 million people at single-family and multifamily dwellings. It also shows that self-supplied withdrawals for domestic use were estimated at 3,600 Mgal/d, or about 1 percent of total withdrawals for all uses in 2010, supplying an estimated 44.5 million people. Nearly all (98 percent) of these self-supplied withdrawals were from fresh groundwater sources. [1]

In fact, these numbers are growing every year. The real thing that is shock and hit people in panic is the life without supplied water. During hurricane sandy (October 22, 2012 – October 31, 2012), I live in Lower Manhattan at that time.




photo by Zhi Yang October, 2012

It seems like good news that high-quality drinking water continued to flow uninterrupted to New York City during and after Sandy. However, in areas with power outages, the pumping systems in high-rise buildings ceased to function, leaving residents on upper floors with empty taps and no way to flush toilets. Meanwhile, a fire in Breezy Point in Queens caused significant disruption to that neighborhood’s private water distribution system. By contrast, Sandy’s storm surge had a major impact on the city’s wastewater treatment system. Ten of 14 wastewater treatment plants operated by the Department of Environmental Protection released partially treated or untreated sewage into local waterways (though water quality samples showed impacts to be minimal due to dilution from the enormous volume of water flowing through the Harbor from the surge). [2]

In addition, 42 of 96 pumping stations that keep storm water, wastewater, or combined sewage moving through the system were temporarily out of service because they were damaged or lost power. Hurricane Sandy impacted many public drinking water systems, and many of these drinking water systems had notified their customers that they should boil water to ensure that it is safe to drink. Most of the boil water notices following Hurricane Sandy have since been rescinded.[3]

I never really felt hopeless and depressed after living in a modern apartment without water and electricity. I use drinking water carefully to brush my teeth and I cannot flush the toilet. All drinking water in the supermarket or deli was sold out before they shut down. Facing the revenge from the nature, we are so tiny and powerless at all. That was also the first time I really noticed, I would die if not save water.

Our survival depends on an environment that is full of water. It can directly affect every detail of our live. When doing the creative research project, “The Journey of Water”, we found a depressing fact – the water can be easily despised and waste in any aspect. It could be throw away when it is not finished for thousand of different reason. There is no living body and sense of bottle water. Water cannot choose their destiny. But we can save their “life”. To save water resources is to save us.


Illustration by Zhi Yang

[1] Molly A. Maupin, Joan F. Kenny, Susan S. Hutson, John K. Lovelace, Nancy L. Barber, and Kristin S. Linsey, “Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2010”, p56. http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1405

[2] NYC gov, “Sandy and Its Impact”, p17.

[3] New York State Department of Health, “Drinking Water Advisories Following Hurricane Sandy”, December 2012. https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/boilwater/sandy/