default blog post image

Thinking Outside the Pipe

Post by Amy Nelson of Biohabitats, cross-posted from Rhizome with permission.
Stormwater in Annapolis. Photo by the Chesapeake Bay Program, used under Creative Commons licensing. Stormwater in Annapolis. Photo by the Chesapeake Bay Program, used under Creative Commons licensing.

Despite the realities faced by many regions of the world today–record droughts, increased water scarcity, aging stormwater infrastructure and related pollutionmany of us still take water for granted. When we need it, we turn on a faucet, pipes bring it in, and when we’re done, it drains down a pipe and out of our minds. Unfortunately, this same mindset is reflected in many of the communities, buildings, and landscapes we humans have planned, designed, and built. In so many of these places, water is thought of last. Is all this about to change? David Sedlak, author of the book Water 4.0 and co-Director of the Berkeley Water Center, believes we’re on the brink of a fourth revolution in the way people manage water. A big part of this revolution, according to Sedlak and other experts, will be the implementation of “integrated water strategies.” We define integrated water strategies as ways of handling water that integrate the built world with the natural environment, people with the broader community of living things, and ecological science with disciplines like architecture, planning, landscape architecture, engineering, plumbing, and construction. In the current issue of Biohabitat's Leaf Litter newsletter, we examine this exciting topic and showcase people who view buildings, communities, and cities as watersheds. People who treat water as the limited, life-giving resource it is. People who are coming up with ways to maximize water use while making the world a better place…for all living things. Editor’s note: The newsletter includes a high-caliber set of interviews (and we don't just say that because one is of our very own Brian Richter), examines the ethics of water, and asks whether water management can be inspiringcheck it out!