The Netherlands floats on water. We drink, wash, transport and cultivate with large quatities of fresh sweet water coming from rivers, skies and soils. A preciese watersystem controls the in and out going flows of our country in relation to the natural sources and climate. However: recently dikes are moving, streets are flooded,winters are iceless and water tastes salty.
The Netherlands biggest fear and worry is it's water overflow while the United Nations announced watershortage to be the 21st century's biggest threat 1*. Since the second half of the 20th century the consumption of fresh sweet water is increasing with vast ammounts. We wash our cars and ourselves daily. We cultivate our food in waterintensive greenhouses. And our industries produce, cool and rinse with large quatities of water. For all these purposes we use one type of high quality fresh sweet water. But of the total of 150 glasses a person uses a day only 4 serve as drinkingwater 2*. Water covers threequater of the earthsurface. Of this area just one Northsea is available to us as in the form of fresh sweet water. One of the important aspects of the water is that the total ammount will always stay the same due to its natural balance. Water is in priciple a cylcic resoures that runs a gamut of sorts and qualities. Watercycles can be analysed at various scales a can be seen as the waterhouseholds of the human being, a country or continent.
Slowly we start to heave, swell, roll to the natural waterlevels but can our waterconsumption an waterwaste patterns do this asswell? Do we need fresh sweet water for all types of use? Can we still rely on the selfcleaning ability of our rivers and seas? Or do we have to clean it ourselves within the build enviroment? What is the nutriental value of wastewater and can we take a bath in the cooling water of a powerplant? Should we continue to cultivate sweetwater crops like tomatoes or do we switch to seakale and algea?
1* (NRC Handelsblad, Profiel water 2000)
2* (SR&O, 04/2003)
Client: Academy of Architecture Rotterdam
Project: Research into the future of waterfacilities in the Netherlands
Planning: researchstudio 2004
External expert: Henk Hartzema
Lectors: Marius Shwartz (Hoogheemraadschap Delfland), Jos Jonckhof (Alterra Wageningen) Joost Lankester (Gemeentewerken Rotterdam), Fransje Hooimeijer (promovenda TU-Delft)