August 15, 2006

The Big Here 03: Trace the Water You Drink From Rainfall to Your Tap

This continues a series of ruminations, discussion on method, and answers to Kevin Kelly’s The Big Here, a query and challenge to know the space we live in, in its shape and relationships.

3) Trace the water you drink from rainfall to your tap.

This one’s easy, because of how well the water utility of the town I live in, Olympia, Washington, reports to its customers. Each year, the city sends out a report which describes the sources of the city’s water, the results of water quality tests, and other information. To quote from the 2006 edition (PDF):

Our drinking water comes from aquifers. An aquifer is an underground deposit of sand and gravel where groundwater is stored. Aquifers are replenished by rainfall that seeps down through the soil.

From September through May, the water I use is piped from McAllister Springs, at the eastern edge of the built-up area, all the way across Lacey to the west side of Olympia, where it runs out of my tap. The brochure is a little vague on where my water comes from during the summer, but the best guess is that the McAllister Springs water is augmented by water from the nearby Allison Springs and Kaiser wells. There are a couple of storage tanks just north of my house, which is likely how the pressure is delivered to my pipes.

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