“…..water can be an entity, an idea, a source of power and wealth, of misery and woes, or inspiration and joy….,” (Johnston 2012: xi)
Johnston’s words capture almost everything that we know, sense, see, inhale, and hear about water. In a modern world, it has now become a daily custom to drinks water directly from a tap, particularly in developed countries. A drinking water fountain in a park (picture 1) illustrates how easy it is for us to access to potable drinking water with assurance that the water is free from harmful pollutants and a taken for granted idea that every water tap produces drinking water quality. However, that is not the case in most parts of the world, especially in the Global South, where 130 millions people do not have access to safe drinking water (WHO/UNICEF 2012). While scholars are busy debating whether it is market, state, or governance failure to realise universal access to drinking water (Bakker, Kooy et al. 2008), somewhere in another corner of the world, children and women have to walk for hours every day to collect two buckets of water.
Stormwater can sometime cause misery, unless urban infrastructure, such as roading, buildings, and parks, are well connected to stormwater pipes throughout the city. In this sense, stormwater is perceived as unwanted water that should be channelled right away out of the cityscape, before it is accumulated and becomes a threat to city dwellers. For Auckland which is one of the most liveable cities in the world, there is little to cause concern about stormwater, even in the worst heavy rainfall (picture 2), people taken for granted that stormwater will be continuously removed from causing woes.
Water is also source of joy, especially in the parks or other public spheres, where water features and fountains entertain children (picture 3). Water feature demonstrate not only how a society perceives water but also how technology, such as the construction of water feature, shape how community should behave. However in order to do this, the city council requires sufficient capacity, in terms of funding to operate and maintain of the water features in the cityscape (picture 4).
BAKKER, K., KOOY, M., SHOFIANI, N.E. and MARTIJN, E., 2008. Governance failure: rethinking the institutional dimensions of urban water supply to poor households. World Development, 36(10), pp. 1891-1915.
JOHNSTON, B.R., 2012. Water, Cultural Diversity, and Global Environmental Change. Springer.
WHO/UNICEF, 2012. Progress on drinking water and sanitation 2012 update. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP).